It is not a surprise that every student prefers lessons where a teacher uses technology. Technology usage in the classroom provides benefits not only for students but for teachers as well. The main advantage of its usage is the increased students’ participation in the educational process. According to Robert W. Sweeny, the technology is used in classrooms for interaction and intersection. Interaction presupposes the existence of numerous ways of access to the information, possibility of working together and participation in the process. Intersection means unexpected meeting of two or more (Sweeny, 2010).
Using technology in classroom changes students’ role in the educational process. It provides them possibility to make their choices, decisions about the way of obtaining or generating information (Technology Rationale, n.d.). Moreover, the lessons using technology help to solve a problem a lot of teachers face, and namely, problem of engaging students and keeping their attention. Common lessons very often leave students with a great amount of questions because they listen to their teachers inattentively. Most teachers say that the test results of the students have improved after the introduction of technology usage strategy. In addition, this strategy increases different skills of students, such as designing skills. Nowadays, there is a wide range of technology usage ways. Even if a teacher is not a computer genius, it is possible to use the simplest technologies in classroom (Haynes, n.d.). The most common way of using technology is PowerPoint presentation-game. PowerPoint can help to create different informative shows or games based on television shows like “Who wants to be a Millionaire?”. A teacher can also change the nature of home tasks. For example, instead of simple essay writing students can write to the so-called blog like Twitter. Here they can share their meanings and communicate.
A very good idea for engaging students or pupils to their class’s life is to create a webpage of their class. Students can post any announcements, read them, download academic materials and do whatever they want. Moreover, teachers can create here online grade book. It is a very convenient and fare system, where students can see all their marks and watch their progress. The simplest way to use technology in classroom is to have the Internet connection there. Any time a teacher needs some specifications, pictures, videos, he or she can use the Internet right in the classroom.
Nowadays, there is a tendency to use personal iPads in the classrooms (Koebler, 2011). Some educational establishments already use eBooks instead of textbooks. Almost all books necessary for the education are available on the special stores for iPads. More than that, iPads can be useful while watching different educational pictures, videos as well as while doing some exercises in special apps.
A very innovative and modern way of technology usage is using Twitter (Lytle, 2011). Most teachers use it as a bulletin board only. Though, some teachers use Twitter as a source for creating a personal brand of student. Students learn the possibilities of Twitter and create their own brand, which can be helpful for their future profession. In addition, different professors state that Twitter can help to develop their conciseness. Some teachers of literature can use Twitter for personifying different characters of famous books. Students may choose any character of the book and show their knowledge of the plot and genre of writing. Twitter is also useful for teaching business courses. Students have access to different business groups in Twitter. They can give advices there and get some professional skills.
Today a new strategy of technology usage appears – using of computer games (Kirriemuir, 2003). Most games are created as purely entertaining. Nevertheless, they can be used for education. For example, Civilization III can be used for teaching History, Sim City is used for Economy Study and Super Monkey Ball for Physics. Using computer games in the classrooms has a lot of advantages. First of all, it helps to create friendly atmosphere between students and a teacher. Some games are already familiar to them and they can show their strategies to the teacher. Sometimes the teacher shows them how to play. Though, more often students learn some tricks from each other. In UK, for example, some games are included in the academic program – Sim City and Flight simulators are used for 5d Modeling, Pirates for History and others. Besides, computer games can engage students better than any other kind of technology. Studying becomes interesting for them, they are not afraid of discussions and interactions. This methodology can help shy and indecisive students to overcome their complexes.
Additionally, schools and colleges, which use computer games for teaching, usually provide additional access to these games at students’ free time. Nowadays, such educational establishments use more than one computer game for teaching. According to the educational program, a lot of games are used to teach students in different disciplines. Moreover, the game progress is also evaluated by special software programs.
Computer games can be used not only to support educational material; it can be a reward for good grades and behavior (Kirriemuir, 2003). Teachers use games to improve younger pupils’ skills in languages, math, team work, geography and other subjects. Though, it is necessary to know limits in computer games access.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to think about the problem of personal identification of students using games. According to Karen Keifer-Boyd, creation of game avatars can help to incorporate all knowledge students have and to open secret talents (Keifer-Boyd, 2010). Though, a lot of people think that avatars are tools for escaping from the real world and for deception. Playing games we do not know whom we are speaking to and playing. Any person can be under the mask of avatar. Students, especially girls, can change their sex in games to feel more confident and comfortable. It is usually true with shy and indecisive in real life students, who want to be on the level with their peers.
Students playing computer games like The Sims see a lot of possibilities, which they do not have in their real lives. Their game actions and dialogues are brave, they are not afraid of punishment for them. Playing such games students often show all that is hidden in their mind. Moreover, though it may seem strange for a lot of teachers, The Sims develops different organizational skills and gives some life and professional experience, especially in business fields. What is also important is that The Sims and other games like this require immediate reaction and decision making. This fact also influences the students’ experience – everything depends on them. Nevertheless, having all rights and possibilities in the game students should not forget about the norms of ethics while doing one or another action.
In general, technology usage in the classroom has a positive influence on the educational process. The main advantages of it are motivation to learn the subject, support during the educational process, developing of necessary skills (social, intellectual and critical) and engagement to participation in the lessons (Wastiau, 2008). Nevertheless, there are some possible disadvantages. Students can be fully engrossed in games or other computer tasks. This may lead to the reticence and aloofness in the real lives of students. To avoid this consequence, teachers should provide strict rules and limits of time devoted to games and other technology usage and have a very accurate planning of their lessons.