Teachers and parents today are under a great deal of pressure to keep up with an ever-increasing list of demands when it comes to education. Among these demands is the need for our children to be technologically proficient. With the prevalence of the internet, cell phones and even video games in our daily lives, it’s no wonder that technological literacy has become a requirement in almost every state’s educational standards. But how can we effectively incorporate technology into the lives of our children in a meaningful way, both inside and outside the classroom?
Research. Learning how to navigate the internet is a vitally important skill for students to learn. Most of the fastest-growing jobs in America are internet-related to some degree; however, even people that don’t have jobs in these sectors still use the internet for practical purposes on a near-daily basis. The possibilities for projects incorporating internet research (both at school and at home) are virtually unlimited. Researching instructions for building a kite, a recipe for a favorite food, or just general information on a topic of interest are all great ways to utilize the internet for both educational and practical purposes. Writing a paper based on internet research is also a great way to teach older kids how to do a proper internet citation.
Reading. For older students, many classic books are available free online (legally!) under the public domain. Project Gutenberg alone has over 33,000 books available for download. This is a great way that technology can be used in an educational setting to save money and paper!
Expression. There are a variety of ways technology can be used by children for self-expression. Digital cameras make it possible to not only capture hundreds of pictures, but also to play around with them using various free picture editors. Blogging is another great way to encourage students to write, and setting up your own blog is free and easy (as a bonus, it can also help increase typing speed). For those with concerns about privacy, there are many free blogging services out there which allow you to modify your privacy settings, so you can control who reads what you write.
Games. Of course, we here at Mentor Interactive love games! Although there is some skepticism out there about the value of educational video games due to their status as “entertainment,” there are many games out there that are backed by significant research. (Cosmos Chaos!, for example, was funded by a Star Schools grant from the U.S. Department of Education and developed by Pacific Resources for Education and Learning.) There are also numerous amounts of free games online geared towards learning—even dictionary.com has word games on their website! With a little bit of research, you can find all sort of fun, educational games that combine learning with technology.
There are many ways to integrate technology into a child’s education. Join me next week, when I elaborate further on some of the suggestions above!