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Texas ISD School Guide
Texas ISD School Guide

Technology for ESL

Technology in High Schools: Hindrance or Help?
By:Michelle Langley

Technology is a critical component of modern education. Without it, students will not learn the skills they need to succeed in a global work environment that is increasingly dependent on new technologies. There are drawbacks to introducing some forms of technology to schools, however. It's a rare teacher who hasn't caught a student wasting time on a social network. An awareness of technological issues in a high school setting can help schools to eliminate costly mistakes.

Help: Makes Learning Relevant to Today's World
A stellar example of how technology in high schools can make student learning relevant is the implementation of geographic information system (GIS) software in over 1,000 high schools across the nation. Schools who used GIS software saw increased student motivation, better classroom communications and increased learning on the part of visual and nontraditional learners, according to geographer and researcher Dr. Joseph J. Kerski.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Students who use digital photo editing and publishing software to put together a yearbook will be learning the skills that actual publishers use. Students who learn how to use spreadsheets to make graphs and how to use presentation software will have some of the skills they need to work in many business environments. Modern high schools teach students how to use modern sound equipment in theater, computer-aided drafting software and many other technologies to help them compete in a technological world.

Hinderance: Must Be Closely Monitored
Computers and other technology complicate the high school environment. Technology is expensive, and it can easily be broken or stolen. Schools must put safeguards into place to protect the equipment and keep track of who is using it. Computers must be closely monitored to ensure that students are not using them inappropriately. Even computer networks that have nonacademic sites blocked must be monitored, as students will often use proxy sites to access inappropriate websites.

Help: Enhances the Curriculum
Doing an experiment in science can be much more interesting for students if they are able to keep track of data electronically, research related experiments and present information by projecting it from a quality microscope, for example. Social studies teachers can project maps of terrain to show the class a real-life example of a river delta. All classes can benefit from technology. Teachers can use visual-audio equipment to make material more accessible to all students, including those with learning disabilities. Students with reading and writing disabilities can use speech recognition software, digital book readers and other technologies to improve their academic performance.

Hindrance: Cost and Training
Not all schools can afford to have a wide variety of technological devices in the classroom. Technology -- devices, training and technical support -- can be a large part of a school district's annual budget. If the money isn't there, the technology won't be there either. The 2008 Florida Innovation Survey indicated that a lack of access to technological devices along with teachers being unprepared to work with the technology were the two largest barriers to implementing a digital classroom.

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