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How Does Technology Improve K-12 Education?

CCA student talking on his headset while on his computer

Your child was born in an unprecedented age. The technology that seems wondrous to previous generations — maybe even yours — is just a backdrop to them. They are true digital natives, not only comfortable in a technology-driven world but incapable of imagining life without it. 

In this atmosphere, technology in education is revolutionizing the way your child learns. Parents might wonder, “How can technology improve learning?” It’s time to realize that children flourish in the digital environment because they don’t know anything else. Wise educators see the difference and are capitalizing on the power of technology to deliver personalized, child-centered learning.

The Rise of Blended Learning

A lot of new terms are coming your way. Remote learning. E-learning. Hybrid learning. What do they mean?

Basically, they all come back to “blended learning.” According to the Oxford Dictionary, blended-learning students “learn via electronic and online media as well as traditional face-to-face teaching.” 

However, that definition obscures an important point about the ways technology is improving education. Blended learning doesn’t work when teachers simply post an image or a lesson on a computer screen. That approach is about as boring as the old days of a teacher lecturing on a math lesson without any engaging activities or challenges. Skilled teachers make blended learning dynamic and interactive by using each half of the equation — in-person contact and online materials — to their advantage.

In blended learning, the teacher will present a new concept and, even across cyberspace, engage students to think about what it means. Students might work together in small groups to understand the implications. Then, they might view an interactive video in which they answer questions and solve problems, while the teacher peeks in to see if they are demonstrating mastery. If students have questions, they can reach out to the teacher, who has the freedom to adapt the lesson as individual students or entire classrooms need help understanding a point or are ready to move on. 

Blended learning also empowers students to review classroom material, including the teacher’s recorded lessons, as many times as they like, on their way to building true comprehension.  

For today’s children, interactive engagement across digital channels feels natural. Some parents might wonder about the wisdom of enrolling their children in cyber charter schools, but their fears often stem from a lack of experience with this new mode of learning. Kids take to it like the proverbial fish to water, and many thrive.

The Role of Technology in Education

It’s said that the smartphone in your hand has more capabilities than the entire computing capability of NASA in 1969 — the year that a human walked on the moon. 

That kind of power is changing education. How does the internet facilitate teaching and learning? Consider the full range of internet-powered technology that makes the typical school day a treasure chest of learning:

  • Smartphones: The average smartphone has a processor that’s 100,000 times faster than NASA’s 1969 Apollo Guidance Computer. It’s fun for downloading favorite TV shows and videos, but it can also deliver worlds of knowledge. Educational videos enrich classroom learning. Texting and phone capabilities connect students with teachers for instant communications. With apps for taking notes and organizing schedules, students can easily manage their daily tasks and concentrate on learning.  
  • Laptops: With laptops, learning goes where your child goes. With their keyboards and larger screens, laptops become portals for active engagement with teachers and classmates. Interactive videos and quizzes spark thought and enthusiasm. For CCA students, laptops are pivotal to the flexibility that cyber charter school families cherish. Whether children are in the car, on the way to a baseball tournament, sitting in a hallway before the next dance class starts or waiting for a doctor’s appointment, they can open a laptop and keep on track with their schoolwork. 
  • Wearable technology: Small devices such as smartwatches and electronic eyeglasses are powerful implements for learning. Assistive technology helps students with disabilities communicate and see or hear their lessons. Teachers can use wearable technology to discreetly nudge a distracted student back on task or deliver a personalized message of praise for great work. Virtual and augmented reality can take children deep into immersive experiences, as they explore the world from the perspective of an insect or travel into new cultures.  
  • Cloud and collaborative computing: Collaboration — the ability to work well with others and contribute ideas that lead to the success of an entire enterprise — is one of the most important soft skills a child can learn. Cloud computing and its close relative, collaborative computing, simplify and facilitate collaboration by keeping joint documents and projects within instant reach of all team members.
  • The Internet of Things: You may already know that IoT technology, as the Internet of Things is called, can turn on the lights before you get home or deliver a weather report from a smart speaker — all because these “things” are connected to the internet. Increasingly, teachers are using the IoT to deliver the latest knowledge in their subjects through digital “textbooks” that are updated in real time. 
  • Game-based learning: Kids and grownups love video games. Educators have capitalized on that popularity, creating video games that teach the full range of academics. When kids grow up, the chances are good that they’ll encounter game-based learning as they train for new jobs and build career skills.

Technology’s Impact on Student Performance

Kids spend many out-of-school hours in front of screens. Do they really need more screen time when they’re in school?

The answer is yes. Research demonstrates the power of technology to enhance student performance and promote academic success. 

  • Mastering the fundamentals: Students learn the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic faster when they have routine access to technology. They are more engaged and, as a result, they spend more time practicing these crucial core skills. When it’s time for achievement tests, students who learn via technology get better scores.  
  • Technology proficiency: Students immersed in education technology get better and better with its use. They learn how to find answers to their questions, making themselves more knowledgeable and better at evaluating and presenting their findings. Writing with a keyboard is easier than with a pencil or pen, so they do more of it. According to one study, students with access to laptops are likelier to explore topics on their own and work longer on school projects. Teachers have access to a broad range of multimedia resources, increasing the likelihood of personalized learning that addresses each student’s learning styles and interests.   
  • 21st century readiness: In a global economy, businesses and institutions must be agile, and they demand people fully equipped with entrepreneurial instincts and the drive to innovate. Children with access to technology learn to organize their work and to work collaboratively to solve problems.
  • Attendance up, dropout rates down: Technology harnesses student enthusiasm for long-term gains. Children with access to technology in school are more likely to attend class and less likely to drop out. They also set their sights higher, toward high school graduation and lifelong learning.   

Technology’s Impact on Career Readiness

Your child needs to learn and grow. It’s a natural need, as innate as the desire to play. Education has always taken advantage of that instinct to prepare children to succeed as adults and citizens. 

Today, educational technologies prepare children for the real world and future careers. How? By teaching them to apply the knowledge and skills that technology delivers. Through technology in school, they learn: 

  • Teamwork. Whether a teammate is in the room or across the miles, children who use technology are learning to collaborate, respect the talents and ideas that others contribute and listen carefully. 
  • Critical thinking skills. Students search for answers on their own and put the pieces together to solve problems. Today’s employers demand people who can assess challenges and opportunities, devise solutions and responses, and take the initiative to see them through.
  • Responsibility. While they’re learning to manage their time and assignments, students are also building the capabilities to be perceptive digital citizens, able to sort fact from fiction and avoid malicious players. 
  • Adaptability. Routine use of technology teaches children that they can use learning as a tool for adjusting rapidly to any situation they face in a fast-changing, unpredictable world. 

Today’s employers demand all these skills and more. They want people who are comfortable navigating a world built on technology and who can contribute groundbreaking thoughts and ideas. 

CCA’s career training is steeped in technology and exploration. Students learn career readiness and productive community engagement that will give them the power to use their talents in the workplace and as tools for giving back to society. 

CCA’s customized learning cultivates each student’s unique interests. The CCAWorks Initiative provides children with 21st century skills, enables career discovery and helps them succeed in careers and in life. As CCA students grow, they have access to hands-on learning in real work settings, such as AgWorks at CCA, the nation’s largest public educational aquaponics facility, or the TechWorks at CCA facility in Pittsburgh, where students practice information technology, computer programming, drone operations, STEM and robotics. Career-focused clubs and courses enable students to delve into the areas that inspire them, while they connect with like-minded classmates. 

This is just a taste of the technology-forward, engaging approaches that CCA applies. Students are armed with 21st century skills that prepare them for success, whether they choose to enter college, career training, the workforce or the military. 

CCA’s Technology for Personalized Learning

Parents don’t need to worry that technology-powered learning is beyond their reach. CCA provides all the tools that children need to succeed. Plus, the technology those tools hold is harnessed to create a personalized learning experience. Children get all the benefits of educational technology, while parents get the assurance that technological equipment and support are always available. 

CCA provides enrollees with all the equipment they need for a virtual classroom. Families receive the use of a free printer and a laptop loaded with all the software to organize schoolwork and enjoy a powerful learning experience every day. Families also get an instructional technology subsidy to help offset the cost of bringing high-speed internet into the home. And, of course, because technology can occasionally go wrong, we offer ongoing technical support and guidance from a Pennsylvania-based technical support staff, promising that your child’s learning won’t stall because of the occasional glitch. 

Although CCA strives to make the technological parts of cyberlearning run smoothly, the point isn’t about playing with the latest in high-tech toys. At CCA, we use technology to make us the best educators possible. Children thrive because technology gives us the power to:

  • Personalize learning to individual students. Old-fashioned brick-and-mortar schools take a cookie-cutter approach to education. Lesson plans and curricula are tossed out into the classroom like a blanket, and anyone it misses is simply left behind. At CCA, teachers use technology to personalize learning. They can slow down or accelerate lessons. They can deliver remediation that reinforces lessons in the areas where students struggle, or they can enrich learning for the child who needs a challenge. Whether the child’s learning style is visual, auditory or kinesthetic, the teacher can craft a suitable learning plan. 
  • Involve Parents: The same technology that gives kids an engaging experience also becomes a communications lifeline between parents and teachers. Teachers stay in frequent contact, and parents are encouraged to share the thoughts and ideas that lead to academic breakthroughs. 
  • Offer flexibility: Children are more enthusiastic about school when they can make learning their own. CCA offers flexibility that doesn’t tie family life to a school schedule. Your child can pursue high-level training in something they’re passionate about — perhaps sports or music — and use technology to log into coursework on their own time. Families are free to manage their daily lives and values, giving their children the chance to absorb lessons from every experience, whether that’s through dance classes, athletic competitions, a job or community service.  

Learn More About Commonwealth Charter Academy

Technology is changing the world every day. Is your school preparing your child to be part of it? CCA captures the power of educational technology to create a springboard for lifetimes of achievement and success. Children receive personalized schooling that caters to their needs and interests, while parents are confident that technology makes learning engaging, interactive and inspiring. Contact us today to learn more about CCA’s cyber school technology and its power to reconnect your child with the joy of learning. 

Author

Commonwealth Charter Academy

Published

April 6th, 2021

Category

Learning Lab

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