Recent studies carried out by the European Council have found a strong correlation between employment and digital skills. Success of future students gaining employment links to their digital skills ability. Key technology is making its way into education in Ireland, this includes eBooks, interactive whiteboards and broadband in schools. In-service teacher training sessions show teachers ways to use the technology, research has shown that there is a lack of focus on integrating the technology into their lessons. Teachers have needed both pedagogical content knowledge and subject knowledge in the past, however, today the classroom is demanding pedagogical technological knowledge.
Some might argue that eBooks and interactive whiteboards in schools are electronic forms of what was there already. When it comes to integrating technology into education, schools in parts of Finland seem to be setting a prime example. A study carried out in Finland showing that seamless integration of technology in schools is not necessarily about the schools adopting the technology but the approach that they take when adopting the technology into their classrooms. Technology has become a seamless part of everyday life in the classroom in Finland for both students and teachers.
Why is Finland different?
There are many studies that state why Finland score higher in international studies such as TIMMS or PISA reports. In studies carried out in Finland, technology has a definite role to play from early pre-school to higher education. Finland is constantly improving its educational system by employing and welcoming research carried out by trainee teachers. They employ innovative new techniques in the classroom with technology that helps students take responsibility for their own learning. By the time they reach compulsory education at age seven, Finnish students conduct research on the internet and work in pairs to write stories on computers. Students also use personal e-portforlios and blogs to write about their schooling in a collaborative space that is open to the teacher.
Ireland, let’s see the facts: ·
Students of today could be facing into electronic exams in the near future. Some subjects in further education are examined in a computer-based examination.
· Technology is moving faster each year, as technology moves faster each year the cost of technology is driven down in price and therefore becomes move available.
· eBooks are electronic books but unless they are used to their potential, they will be nothing more than an expensive alternative.
· Digital resources replaced acetates in the classroom and are seen as powerpoints, pdfs and electronic posters. If used solely for presentation this transfers teaching in the mathematics classroom to presenting and could restrict student interaction.
A great importance has been placed on teachers to up-skill their technological skills, spending the first ten minutes of the class setting up a laptop and interactive whiteboard. A forty minute class in Ireland is under more strain now with technology than without it.
What Irish classrooms could do next…
Geogebra and electronic tools that are used as demonstration tools are great to show mathematical objects and equations even to show students how to plot points, however, not many see that it is a free tool that students can download themselves. Students have the ability to use the tool and if they have access to a computer at home why not get them to start looking at their equations on the tool!
Essays and project work can be handed up directly via an on-line tool. Essays handed up on-line can ensure that students use computers as part of seamless integration not just within the confines of the classroom but within the context of homework. Essays about where things come from, why we use Trigonometry, who used it in the past for example, George Everest, how it was used to measure our roads and that of India’s roads and mountains are some of the examples of essays that students could write as part of their homework.
In conclusion, a solution when removing a barrier for teachers integrating technology is to look at ways in which they could adopt the technology for their students. Getting students to download Geogebra at home or write essays or blogs will reap rewards. Students may develop an investigative eye for the subject and find ways of doing things that would surprise teachers. Students themselves could likely come up with ways of making the classroom more interesting. Open the classroom to a wider range of technology. There are plenty of resources available for free on-line. It’s a case of integrating technology, but only if there are benefits! This on-going debate demands further research to determine both whether or not there are benefits and how to effectively integrate technology into education.