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As individuals increasingly incorporate technology into their daily lives, it was only a matter of time before educators took to using technology in the classroom. A growing number of schools and teachers of primary and secondary education are bringing technology into the learning process in order to improve their students’ educational experiences. However, with a school system that already unequally distributes resources, technological innovation for classroom use highlights inequality in US education.
According to a recent survey by PBS LearningMedia, seven in ten teachers (sixty-nine percent) who participated in an online questionnaire claimed that technology was allowing them to “do much more than ever before” for their students, and seventy-four percent claimed that technology helps them motivate students to learn.
The survey was conducted in January 2013 and targeted prekindergarten through twelfth grade teachers in the United States. More than two-thirds of those questioned stated that they want more technology in the classroom, and seventy-five percent of those who want more technology were from low-income schools.
Although the survey (conducted through 503 web-based interviews) was limited in its reach, it highlights the educators’ positive perception of technology in the classroom.
As more educators find technology beneficial to student learning, schools and classrooms across the United States are finding different ways to utilize new technological tools. For example, Black River Middle School in New Jersey designated February 6 (Digital Learning Day) as BYOD day, which stands for Bring Your Own (Digital) Device. According to the school’s vice principal, Brad Currie, BYOD day highlights the importance of using technology in the classroom, but he also noted that the middle school has made a concerted effort to use more technology in general. “This is the future of education, and we have to change with it,” he said.
Using technology in the classroom is not without its disadvantages. For example, the constant use of technology both inside and outside the classroom could lead to children becoming overly dependent on technology. Adults must monitor the amount of time that children are using electronic devices. And while incorporating technology into classroom learning can help develop job skills, too much dependence can also take away from the development of other skill sets.
One of the main challenges today is making technology available to students of all income levels. Education inequality in the United States becomes painfully evident when examining the use of technology in the classrooms. Lower-income schools do not have the same technological tools as do their higher-income counterparts.
There are some attempts to bridge this gap, through grants from the US government to fund technology in the classroom, for example. However, funding for education remains on the chopping block as cities and states grapple with budget shortfalls. These factors affect school funding that might be applied toward bringing technology into the classroom.
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