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Technology Updates in the Classroom: Latest Trends in the K-12 Environment

By Dr. William M. Gillum
Associate Professor in the School of Education, American Public University

The evolution of technology in the classroom is a difficult subject on which to stay abreast for even the savviest technology users. New resources are constantly being developed, and the latest technology platforms are being replaced as quickly as they are released. As a result, education leaders should regularly review what is being used and how it is shaping our classrooms today. A few of the changes they might spend a little more time exploring include the influence of Career and Technology Education (CTE), cloud-based word processing, tech donation sites like DonorsChoose, and the importance of mindfulness and self-regulation in technology use.

Career and Technical Education (CTE)

The Association for Career and Technical Education (2015) states that cutting edge CTE helps to prepare today’s students for a “wide range of high-wage, high- skill, high-demand careers” (para. 1). Unlike old vocational training programs that may not have provided many career opportunities, specific training for technology- based careers can be rewarding. The development of effective CTE programs enables schools to prepare their students for a highly- competitive workforce that requires workers who can transition right from school into advanced technology jobs.

Cloud-based Word Processing

Cloud-based word processing programs such as Google Docs or Shutterbug are important tools that are altering the way teachers and students teach and learn. With the rise of online learning and the flipped classroom, students need to work on their projects and interact with their teachers and peers in a more flexible manner. With the ability to access, edit and interact with multiple people in the same document, these tools can open up the classroom beyond the traditional walls.

Technology Funding

DonorsChoose provides a great resource for teachers who may not have the tools they would like in their classrooms. Opening an account and describing your “technology wish” allows nearly two million donors to select the teachers or schools they would like to fund. The system is well- organized and has quickly funded nearly a quarter million teachers’ wish lists (DonorsChoose, 2015).

Mindfulness and Self-regulation

Mindfulness and self-regulation in schools is an interesting movement related to the over-reliance and pressure schools often feel to further integrate technologies in their classrooms. Many teachers and parents are concerned that there is too much technology in our children’s lives. Mindful Schools (2015) describes mindfulness as “the mental faculty of purposefully bringing awareness to one’s experience” (para. 2). As a result, working to find time to “unplug” and be more “mindful” of their lives and surroundings has become part of schools’ focus, including the integration of breathing exercises and mediation in a school with one of the highest suspension rates in the San Francisco area. The programs in this school led to a decrease in suspension of over 50% (Mindful Schools, 2015).

Technology provides many great opportunities for schools to increase student learning both inside and outside of the classroom. Integrating such programs as CTE, DonorsChoose and cloud-based word processing helps to make technology more accessible and useful beyond the classroom walls. At the same time, we have a responsibility to be mindful of how students may be over-stimulated by too much technology and pressure in schools. Programs that emphasize and teach students to be mindful and self-regulate can help to offset the negative impacts that some fear of “connectedness”.

About the Author

William Gillum received his bachelor’s degree in Social Science and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instructional Development from Cal Poly Pomona. He earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Azusa Pacific University. William’s dissertation focused on the impact of Strength’s Instruction on under-performing students in math. Dr. Gillum has had the fortunate opportunity to teach in public high school for over 18 years, while also enjoying the rigors of teaching at the university level.

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