The Technological Teacher: How Educational Technology is Changing the Role of Teachers in the High School Classroom
We live in a world that is rapidly evolving through technology. This evolution has led to a changing cultural ideology and how we function day to day. The influences of technology have become ubiquitous in almost every aspect of our current society, including in our educational systems. As expectations have risen within our classrooms, for both students as well as teachers, we are seeing more and more educational technology being implemented into academia and at all levels. The objective of this thesis is to critically investigate this technological shift in education and to understand what effects it is having on student learning, but more importantly, teaching practices. The overarching questions that this thesis examines are: How has the role of the teacher/educator changed as a result of new educational technology? What are some factors influencing teachers use of technology in the classroom? Finally, how do teachers generally feel about educational technology? While initial research has offered a mixed bag of perspectives and attitudes, the initial hypothesis for this project was that the teacher has become more of a facilitator of technology and that some of the art of teaching had been lost. The purpose of this study was to investigate this change from the perspective of the teacher in order to better understand the benefits and potential consequences of educational technology. The implementation of educational technology has been seen to have presented numerous benefits for many within the education system. However, what these technologies have also presented various challenges and unintended consequences. Some of those challenges being accessibility, cost effectiveness, lack of support and technological know-how, credibility of resources, and reliability of software and hardware to name a few. It has also been recognized that the pressure on teachers to implement technology in the classroom has been heavily influenced by society, the administration and institution itself, and even through professional pressures from colleagues in the field as well as simply trying to stay up-to-date in order to remain effective. What this has meant for teachers and students within the classroom is a shift in the approach to learning. In order to better define the boundaries and limitations of this project, only the state of Minnesota was studied. Additionally, research data was collected from current high school social studies and history teachers and educators as well as other professionals within the field from the state of Minnesota. Primary fieldwork for this study was collected through a teacher survey, personal interviews, and classroom observations. The results of the fieldwork demonstrated a greater overall enthusiasm for educational technology than anticipated. Nevertheless, teachers still expressed concern over what technologies are being introduced, the degree to which they are incorporated, and the practicality of these resources. Technology may be enhancing the learning experience of discovering information in new and creative ways, but it may also be unintentionally marginalizing our education system standards and the quality of our teachers. Educational technology is a double-edged sword. We must be careful with how we use it.
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