5 Ways Technology Has Improved K-12 Education

Today’s high school students have never known a world without cell phones. Sixth-graders have never known a world without social media; fourth-graders have never known a world without touch screens and apps. While virtual reality devices may be a novelty now, they probably will be commonplace by the time babies born this year start kindergarten.
Rapid advancement in technology has affected every aspect of life in the last decade or two. And it has proven just as revolutionary in the classroom, where students text their teachers, file their homework by email, post their lives on social media, watch lectures on video and research projects online – with tablets or laptops provided by their school.
Here are just a few of the ways technology has changed the education world:
1. Bringing virtual reality into the classroom
Instead of just reading about Gettysburg in social studies, what if your students could visit it through virtual reality? What if they could explore the mysteries of deep sea for science class, or watch the moon landing as though they were there?
Virtual reality (VR) is beginning to make this kind of learning possible. Google’s Expeditions app, for example, uses tablets, virtual reality viewers, phones and routers to take students to a coral reef or the surface of Mars. In addition, a new charter school in the District of Columbia plans a virtual-reality chemistry lab that could be a more cost-effective model for schools across the country.
2. Learning on the go with new educational technology
No matter where a student is, learning can now follow. He or she can:

Nearpod created a platform that allows teachers to upload lesson plans, create files, add websites and videos, and synchronize across all student devices in the classroom. Research has illustrated the academic potential of mobile learning, including a Department of Education study that determined that children ages 3-7 increased their vocabulary by as much as 31% after two weeks of daily use of a PBS educational gaming app.
3. Harnessing data and analytics
Once schools and districts had to meet certain benchmarks on standardized tests and store the results in databases, it became possible to focus on the performance of a school, a grade, a subject or even an individual student. Personnel evaluations and curriculum decisions could be enhanced by studying the numbers, and everything from custodial schedules to cafeteria ordering could be streamlined.
Consider a San Francisco-area startup school named AltSchool that is taking big data to even further lengths by installing cameras that catch students’ facial expressions, microphones to record sound, devices like Fitbits to record health data, and more. While there are some concerns that the monitoring is too invasive, the hoped-for result is that the flood of data will give administrators clues about students’ engagement, performance levels, moods and vocabulary use that will produce insight into the daily learning process.
4. Using technology as educational tools
Social media doesn’t stop at the school doors; educators are now using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts to help students connect with each other and include parents in classroom activities. Podcasts and blogs can be used to update the student body or explore issues of the day. The newest 3D printers allow students to build objects right in their classrooms.
5. Narrowing the achievement gap
One of the greatest challenges in the educational system in recent decades has been the effort to close the achievement gap, the term for the differences in test scores and graduation rates between wealthier and poorer school districts. A 2014 report from the Alliance for Excellent Education and the Stanford Center for Policy in Education reviewed more than 70 research studies and determined that when used in appropriate ways, technology makes a positive difference in the classroom for those students most at risk of failing or dropping out entirely. The biggest problem was simply getting technology into those schools with higher populations of low-income students (who often do not have access to computers at home).
Future Use of Technology in Education
Discover more about how you can successfully integrate technology in to the classroom environment, learn more about the George Washington University’s (GW) online Master’s in Educational Leadership Administration, Education Specialist (EdS) or Post-Master’s Certificate programs. Request information or call 844-386- 7323 to speak with an admissions advisor.