According to a recent Gallup poll, 57% of educators “think digital learning tools are more effective than non-digital tools for personalizing instruction,” and the majority of the educators surveyed believe digital learning tools are more effective to engage students with learning and school. Educational technology (ed tech) has transformed how teachers educate and how students learn. However, one of the biggest roadblocks to a universal approach to using tech in the classroom is the lack of access to high-speed internet, tablets or laptops that many marginalized communities experience.
As the link between curriculum, instructional design and ed tech grows stronger, educators and curriculum and instructional designers need to incorporate digital teaching and learning tools into their teaching methods. The online Master of Science in Education (MSEd) in Educational Leadership with a Specialization in Teacher Leader program from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) can broaden professionals’ expertise in the challenges of incorporating educational technology tools in today’s diverse academic environment, with direct applications for influencing and improving student outcomes.
The Intersection of Educational Technology, Curriculum and Instructional Design
Educational technology is the practice of using hardware and software in the classroom designed to enhance student engagement and learning outcomes. Ed tech is used to personalize curriculum based on a student’s aptitude by presenting new content at the student’s own pace. Digital learning tools can be whiteboards, interactive projection screens, tablets, laptops, online content delivery or a massive open online course (MOOC). With the onset of remote learning during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, educators worldwide became very familiar with digital learning tools and discovered what they liked and disliked about them. Educators who provide feedback to the administration and school board regarding digital learning tools can help leadership consider the best tech-driven initiatives to implement within the district. Successful collaboration between teachers, IT staff, administrators and board members can create a strong partnership regarding the acquisition and use of ed tech in the classroom.
Instructional designers create effective teaching plans for specific students. When educators explain the information students need in a way that benefits them, they can better understand those concepts and ideas. When considering what teaching methods and materials will help students the most, educational technology should come into play. The principles of instructional design are the best tools to convey information to students. Traditional materials — such as worksheets, handouts and manuals — should complement digital learning and multimedia tools.
Incorporating educational technology in the classroom is not as simple as passing out tablets and having students use them as part of the curriculum. Teachers need to be trained properly and taught how to troubleshoot potential problems in a classroom setting. Schools can use software, programs and digital devices to accommodate students at their individual learning levels. This technology can create a comprehensive level playing field for students who traditionally might fall behind. Using smart digital technology in the classroom is an exciting and empowering venture for students and educators. The benefits to students of all backgrounds include increased engagement, improved collaboration, active participation and heightened connection between students and teachers.
Educators who want to be well versed in advanced teaching strategies must consider the growing role of educational technology in today’s classrooms. Graduates of SIUE’s online program will gain expertise in sociocultural foundations and strategic curriculum development, focusing on differentiated instruction, including technology integration, to meet the needs of all students.