Some students miss out on the benefits of technological instruction

Posted on Friday, 4/26/2013 6:59 pm

Schools nationwide are currently in the process of taking a step into the future by embracing new technology. From the perspective of many educators, the technology they are adopting, such as tablet computers and student software, can go a long way in improving the quality of instruction they provide to pupils. 

Of course, not every school district has the funds necessary to cover the cost of this technology. This, in turn, can keep many students from benefiting from technological classroom resources. Then, there is a different type of issue in some school systems, such as the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) - students have access to technology, but they are not using it.

Students use technology at home, but not school
Based on a February 2013 report from the University of Chicago's Consortium on Chicago School Research, many students have access to the internet at home, but do not use technology too frequently when they are at school.

Overall, 92 percent of CPS pupils in grades six through 12 have access to the web at home. However, 20 to 30 percent of these same individuals rarely use technology in the classroom, or do not use it at all. At the same time, about half of the students who have internet access at home use technology at school at least weekly.

"That's not to say that there aren't neighborhood schools or charter schools that are using technologies more," Stacy Ehrlich, a senior research analyst, told CBS Chicago. "It certainly varies. Teachers in selective enrollment high schools have expectations for more frequent use, so we actually see more teachers say that they're expecting their students to use these kinds of technologies."

Students miss out on technological benefits
The fact that many students in Chicago are going through the school day without exposure to technology is troubling for many reasons. For example, as schools implement the Common Core State Standards, instruction will need to change to reflect the knowledge and skills pupils will require throughout their academic and professional careers. Technological skills will be among them.

According to the report, high-achieving CPS students use computers and the internet more than classmates who are not considered to be high achievers. This information alone provides evidence that pupils could excel when technology factors into their academic routine.

Schools use technology to enhance instruction
Still, just because many CPS students are not using technology does not mean educators in other parts of the country do not understand its benefits. In Mississippi, for example, many institutions are finding ways to integrate technology into their classrooms.

Robert Blaine may be the interim dean of Jackson State University's College of Liberal Arts, but he has also noticed the impact technology has had on instruction in Mississippi's K-12 system.

"It becomes a collaborative learning space and that's really what the 21st century is about," Blaine told WLOX 13.

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