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12/26/13

Technology Chic: Schools surprisingly embrace technology and look better for it

Within the confines of school, the word technology is a "bad" word. How you define technology is relative to perception. Most of the time that equates to linking students to cell phones and tablets or another mindless device that hinders, rather than helps, the schooling process.
The idea that a cell phone is directly related to learning seems like hearsay as those gadgets give teachers more headaches than helpful tips. The inception of cell phones especially led to students sharing test answers or casually walking to the teacher's desk and taking a snapshot of today's lesson plan to share with his fellow students.
That's not even taking into consideration students simply sending ill timed text messages or updating Facebook statuses in lieu of paying close attention to the lesson plan at hand.
So it's not hard to understand why technology takes a beating in the eyes of educators.
But as phone and tablets matured, so did the mindset and mentality of teachers and educators, who finally have a reason to embrace technology as more hero than villain, as long as the road from good to evil is treated with the utmost responsibility.

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That responsibility comes in the form of apps that deviate from the ubiquitous "Angry Bird" or "Temple Run" and serve as a catalyst for furthering the education process or helping to make the life of a teacher easier in relationship to students and how they learn.
The most glaringly positive of example of technology and the classroom meeting in the middle to harmonious sounds of students learning is Socrative, an application that is applicable to cell phones, tablets and laptops that allows teachers to log in, choose an activity or testing and interact with students using that same platform.
Yes, students are buzzing through these activities with their gadgets and devices but in a way that is engaging on an educational level and employing multiple choice or true and false questions. In other words, students still have that cell phone in their hands, but they're using it for something useful and not mindless.
Teachers are able to load a quiz or assign tests through the Socrative application and literally are able to watch as each student logs on and begins answering questions. The actual information can be specific to a subject like history or math, or the teacher can simply poll the classroom to get a gauge as to how well they understand a lesson. A huge plus of Socrative is students can answer that aforementioned question privately, and not feel embarrassed or on display if they admit they're not catching on as quickly as their classmates.
The back end of the application allows teachers to monitor answers and progress accordingly, but the real salvation associated with Socrative is how it flips traditional learning on its ear and refuses to butt heads with technology.
Instead, it embraces it and turns a one dimensional, bland classroom into an intoxicating, forthright experience that leave students feeling like they're part of open dialogue. This is on the opposite end of the current classroom spectrum with a teacher standing tall at the front of the room and delivering a monologue of sorts in the hopes that the group is paying attention.
Applications like Socrative is slowing rebuilding the reputation of technology as it relates to school. Cell phones and tablets aren't in the process of being phased out any time soon, so teachers, principals and educators around the world who intelligently determine that technology can't be beaten do the next best thing.
They join together with it and forge together a union that is anything but "bad."

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