Technology in the past was mostly used in industrial fields but today it has infiltrated almost all aspects of life for example schools, churches, hospitals, business name it. Technology is good because it makes work easier; it enhances performance and output, encourages independence as well as increase accuracy. (Goodman, 2002). This is in reference to the general application of various technologies in the different institutions aforementioned. However, what are the differences felt in elementary school today as a result of use of technology? What was it like in the past? This paper sets out to answer these questions in details and with particular focus to pre-k to forth grade of elementary school.
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Arguably, technology has become a very important part of our daily life in school. The constant improvement to information technology and computers has meant that schools can nowadays purchase them and use them to educate children in a sharply contracting manner than was use in years gone by.
Previously, before the advent of computer technology in schools, the educators used hard copy books, dusty chalkboards and other teaching learning resources and materials that were quite cumbersome and hectic to use. A typical classroom in the past was characterized by bored and disinterested students who could not wait for the bell to go and leave the class. The elementary teachers also had a hard time sustaining the attention of the pupils or eliciting their interest in exploring the learning materials at their disposal so as to generate their own knowledge. (Provenzo, Brett & McCloskey, 2005). Nowadays the use of technology in schools has revolutionized the education sector, for example, use of computer graphics to teach elementary pupils the different shapes, alphabets or words tends to be motivational as opposed to books which are after very demanding to read. This is because, software programs designed to teach elementary students are usually very colorful, and accompanied with background sounds which can retain the children’s attention fro an invariably longer time.
Another thing about use of computer technology in elementary classroom is that is exposes the children early to technology hence increases their confidence. Notably, the society is becoming more and more dependant on technology and this means that the subsequent generations must be fast oriented to technology as early as elementary. The use of technology ingrains in the elementary school pupils an aspect of informed attitude to embracing technology and its positive influence on society today.
Today, play activities that are technology facilitated enhance the abilities. Previous, children could only use building blocks or play outside in order to enhance these skills. During the winter days when the weather was not conducive, then their motor skills were delayed. However, these days with advanced technology, the elementary children can enjoy year round activities which develop their capabilities.
Perhaps one great advantage about technology in elementary classroom is that it can be integrated with the elementary school teaching curriculum thus it ensures that learning is reinforced as well as increase explorative mind. This is a good thing especially in this world today where innovation and creativity is highly valued, and where in future, it will be an indispensable asset.
Technology at elementary is today used to teach writing and alphabets, shapes, and sizes, history and science, as well as basic calculations. Previously, before the rise of technology, the teachers used to experience difficulty in ensuring uniformity in students’ performance. Some children with mild learning disabilities and/or difficulties were left behind in class. However, these days thanks to technology teachers are able to reach the mildly challenged students and assist them in learning just ass much as the others. For example the fast forward computer software helps children with phonematic problems to learn their phonic in a faster and less strenuous way.
In these traditional days, dyslexic children and those with other learning difficulties faced great challenges in learning the basics and took a lot of time in kindergarten trying to master the alphabets and words. Educators can now appreciate technology for improved performance in the students. Use of technology increases the morale and curiosity to learn. It is not difficult to feel the energy and positive attitudes towards learning as a result of computer technology in the classroom. (Lee & Houseal, 2003). This zeal is almost contagious and even the lazy students catch on to wanting to learn more. This is what leads to improved students outcomes. The use of technology in the classroom generally sharpens determination of students and redirects students’ attitudes towards a positive direction. (Marshall & Katz, 2003) Elementary school learners need a motivating factor to encourage the will to learn. Melone Christen in her article the internet in the classroom a valuable tool and resource for ESL/EFL teachers notes that:
‘Students do feel comfortable and are very receptive to any learning activities that involve the computer. Increased motivation leads to increased language use which leads to improved proficiency.
In this case, unlike previous years where learning was viewed as a task/work, today’s schools that in use computers to aid learning note significant change in attitudes towards learning although technology merely provided a different avenue to learning. John Kosakowski, a writer in Eric Digest group holds that, students who use computers aided programs feel more confident of themselves and their capabilities to grasp abstract n technical concepts.
Technology plays a major role in enhancing communication and literacy among children in elementary school. The application of technology in elementary schools and especially computer technology in today’s classrooms is widespread (internets, research, email) ((Jerner, 2006). The computers have enhance effectiveness in reading, writing, spelling as well as listening skills in children, which in turn connotes enhanced communication among elementary school children. Borrowing from psychology knowledge in the constructivist model children learn by ‘making meaningful connections’ from what they see in their environment which in turn triggers exploration and thus higher literacy among elementary school children. (Quinones & Kirshstein, 2000). Computer technology enhances coordination of children five senses i.e. visual, audio and touch. This is an added advantage as compared to the traditional elementary schools where coordination of more of a slow concept to acquire
Technology in the future is going to transform learning as an active endeavor where the elementary school children have a more active than passive role in acquiring knowledge and the teacher’s role as a facilitator of learning. Currently, elementary schools children can enjoy an array of choices on obtain, generate and influence information and presentation. Generally technology in elementary classroom allows for changes in both teachers and learners roles.
Elementary classrooms that use technologies are usually in a position to enhance peer coaching winch is essential in building teamwork. This is so because as children interact with technology they are able to help each other. The fast learners help the weaker ones which is a plus in contributing to the learning atmosphere. Generally, the collaborative and cooperative tone in the classroom environment is evident in the way groups look over their shoulders. (Diane Publishing Company, 1995). Exchange ideas and comment regarding each others work and interacting in in-depth discussions about their works. Once this culture has been ingrained in the students then it precedes to subsequent years thus changing the learning environment to be favorable. (Schofield, 1995, Wenner, 1993)
No doubt that technology makes difficult tasks accomplishable. This is because it’s designed to do so. This is the case with computer technology in the elementary classroom, and in the subjects of maths and science. Most adults in the traditional schools can attest that learning some concepts like pision and multiplication was a nightmare. These days technology has come up with software that are user friendly and that simplify abstracts and present it too learners in a very interesting way. This means that elementary learners are able to deal with higher order skills given the support provided by technology. Additionally, technical skills are nurtures at the elementary school level which is an added advantage for example hyper studio software, drafting programs word processor. (O'Neil & Perez, 2003)
Technology in the elementary classrooms has become a very important feature in transforming the way the attitudes towards learning and teaching approaches. Although some educators may be reluctant to embrace technology at elementary school level for fear of distorting the content and the curriculum soon technology will be an indispensable tool to teaching and learning owing to industrialization. The future is looking to a situation whereby there will be minimal role of the teacher in the learning process as the technology evolves to be more user-friendly, interactive and capable of handling numerous tasks such that self learning will be a reality.
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