Use of Technology in the Classroom: Potentials and Pitfalls
In the last decade, increasingly powerful technologies have begun to make their way into classrooms across the nation. Many classrooms are now equipped with personal computers that run educational software to help teach students facts and concepts in a more engaging way than a traditional lecture. Advances in telecommunications technologies have led to almost universal access to the Internet, allowing students and teachers to communicate with people from around the world and gain access to a wealth of educational materials. New ways of obtaining and presenting information have given students powerful new methods for understanding the world around them. However, while use of technology in the classroom has been shown to be highly beneficial for students, it is important to note that without a well-planned technology support system, this expensive educational technology often goes under- or mis-utilized..
Technology in the classroom can significantly enhance student performance. Lessons that utilize computers and technology can be more interactive and hands-on, increasing student engagement and motivation. Schools that have implemented computers and other technology in the classroom report higher attendance and lower dropout rates than in the past (Braun 7). Teachers report that students are more challenged, engaged, and independent when using technology (U.S. Department of Education). A 1995 study funded by the U.S. Department of Education concluded that in the nine technology-rich schools studied, the use of technology resulted in educational gains for all students, regardless of age, race, parental income, or other characteristics (Means and Olson).
Also, media-rich lessons have been found to improve the quality of students' work. For example, asked to draw "concept maps" of the Enlightenment, eleventh-grade history students who had studied the topic using a media-enriched curriculum had more information within their maps and used more abstract concepts than their peers who had not used the hypermedia materials (Spoehr). In another study, one group of ninth-grade students studied the Civil War by developing hypermedia presentations; a second group covered the same material using traditional approaches. The group with the hypermedia experience recalled more Civil War facts had a more realistic understanding of...