Growth of Technology in Education
ChatGPT, adaptive recommendation engines, artificial intelligence (AI), grammar aids, oral fluency, digital manipulatives, virtual reality—the list goes on. Education is awash with technology solutions that claim to solve myriad problems in the classroom. Keeping abreast of all these changes is a mind-boggling endeavor for educators. There are so many questions! Will technology replace me? Does any of this work? Will it save me time? Will students use technology to cheat? The speed at which these solutions are emerging and fear of the unknown can overwhelm educators.
On the flip side, groundbreaking advances that could maximize student outcomes have never been more imminent. Educators and engineers are getting creative, adapting to the evolution of technology, and innovating new ways to make and implement EdTech tools. At HMH, our mission is to save teachers time while providing students with engaging experiences that ensure their success. While the future of technological advancement in the field of education can seem intimidating, it is also full of promise. Here we break down EdTech’s usefulness for classrooms today, along with innovations that are on the horizon.
Using Assessments for Data-Driven Instruction
Technology has enabled a shift in monitoring student proficiency by generating data from assessments. Whether these assessments are summative, formative, or diagnostic, data insights can translate into precise recommendations that target student skill gaps. For many educators, these insights are a game-changer.
Data collection is not good enough by itself. For these insights to be useful, they need to drive learning pathways in other classroom systems and programs that help educators make decisions. Connecting data to instruction is as important as generating data in the first place.
Supporting Personalized Learning with Technology
Personalized learning involves adapting the difficulty of materials based on a student’s performance. Personalized learning using technology has enabled teachers to manage the diversity of learners in their classrooms. When learning is driven by data, students can independently work on the skills they need to master, while teachers can monitor and intervene as appropriate. This helps teachers to customize their support to the range of learners in their classroom.
Technology solutions that support personalized learning come in various shapes and sizes. HMH, for example, offers adaptive practice like Waggle, oral fluency practice from Amira, and AI-supported writing practice in Writable. All these tools personalize learning but tackle different aspects of it.
The advent of generative AI, in particular, has the potential to improve how technology personalizes learning. ChatGPT, an AI system that OpenAI deployed in 2022, is, as of this writing, the most popular generative AI tool. Even though ChatGPT is embryonic in its adoption, 51% of K–12 educators have already used it, and 64% plan to implement the technology more often. There are some key uses that are emerging:
- Personalized Tutoring: The AI system asks students questions about the material they are learning and provides feedback on their answers.
- Writing Feedback: The AI system helps students practice their writing skills by providing prompts to write about and then giving feedback.
- Discussion Support: The AI system generates discussion prompts that help students think critically about the material they are learning and share ideas with one another.
Personalized learning using technology has enabled teachers to manage the diversity of learners in their classrooms.
Enhancing Collaborative Learning with Digital Tools
Technology can also be used to promote collaborative learning. Students learn best when they are actively involved in the learning process. Collaborative learning, in fact, can positively impact student engagement and maximize learning when effectively implemented. Research has shown that students working together in groups can improve participation and confidence toward others and the content.
Teachers can leverage technology by putting students into groups and assigning projects that involve digital tools, such as online discussion forums, video conferencing, shared documents, or project management software. Students can share ideas, get help from each other, and explain concepts to one another. Teachers can collaborate with students as well and can help match the right tools to each student’s needs. This collaborative learning approach promotes critical thinking and improves communication and teamwork skills.
Leveraging Learning Management Systems
The role of technology in the classroom wouldn’t be complete without mentioning learning management systems (LMS). An LMS is an application that helps educators organize resources from various sources into a single location, allowing students easy access to assignments that can be tracked and graded by the teacher. Teachers can communicate through the LMS and provide feedback to students on their work. It also allows educators to communicate with each other. Popular LMS’s include Schoology®, Canvas®, and Blackboard®. Google Classroom is very widely used in this space; it can be considered an LMS, although it doesn’t support discussion forums or personalized feedback.
How Will Technology Change Education in the Future? An Example with Amira
In real life, how do these programs work in a classroom to support data-driven instruction, personalized learning, and collaborative learning? Let’s put theory into practice by imagining a third-grade student whose first language is Spanish and who speaks limited English entering a mainstream classroom with a teacher who isn’t biliterate. The teacher may feel at a loss about how to reach this student. The teacher’s goal is to support the student in English language acquisition, but how to do that in the classroom?
The teacher decides to have the student read with Amira in Spanish. Amira is AI software that listens to the student read, assesses oral reading fluency, and provides 1:1 reading tutoring online. Artificial intelligence isn’t doing the teaching, but it may very well cause the student’s eyes to light up. The teacher and student are soon better able to understand one another as the student uses Spanish supports in the program to develop foundational skills. The assessment data generated by the program can guide the teacher on where to focus instruction.
The Amira example is just one way that technology is changing education right now. Yet it is just one of many kinds of examples, with technology solutions enabling ever-evolving shifts in education. Assessment-driven insights, personalized learning, collaborative learning, and classroom communication have all been touched by the magic wand of technology and have opened transformative opportunities for educators and their students.
Notice how technology supports teachers but never replaces them. Educators should evaluate new technology and adapt it to their needs so that they are maximizing instructional time in the classroom. Technological tools can extend the reach of a teacher and provide the targeted support that each student needs. But for the technology to live up to its true potential, it must be carefully integrated into the curriculum and the classroom.
The growth of technology in education has transformed student learning. For more on the future of technology in the classroom and digitization, read “Preparing Students for Future Technology: Classrooms in 2072.” Additionally, explore how HMH supplemental programs personalize practice in math and ELA to help students thrive.
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