Technology has been in classrooms for more than 30 years; however, there is a difference between how technology was used in the 80's and how it is used today. After literally decades of knowing that technology was important, over the last several years, educators have learned how to make technology practical and pragmatic for their students. This isn't to say that the previous 25 years were a waste, but now nearly every subject area can use technology with some sort of focus to strengthen student learning.
One obvious improvement that technology has afforded is an opportunity for students to learn 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Learning materials, curricula, background knowledge are all there for students in the classroom, at home, at the local fast food joint; wherever they have access to a computer (or smart phone) and Wi-Fi, students will learn. Connectivity means something extra when it means that students are connected to teachers and to learning materials at any time.
Virtual learning, which is sometimes referred to as online learning can range from opportunities for students who are behind their peers, and allows them to keep up. Although credit recovery is an important part of online learning, for many students and schools, dual enrollment possibilities also exist. Some schools don't have a budget to allow a flesh and blood classroom teacher to teach more than the basics. For many of these schools, virtual learning allows students to participate in Advanced Placement and honors courses.
Some schools are even full-time and online. These schools benefit students with severe health issues, students who have discipline issues, or students who may find themselves in a geographically created isolation. There are also blended learning opportunities using technology. Perhaps the local teacher presents the lesson, and an online instructor presents more background, or a lab.
Online education doesn't have to have a direct connection with a particular school. Resources are available worldwide in a multitude of subject areas through online learning sources. There are also many test preparation options available to students. Test prep opportunities, like Method Test Prep, can benefit students who are preparing for the ACT & SAT tests.
Technology is a useful part of instruction in today's schools in ways that even 10 years ago only the most creative might have dreamed about. Students have access to laptops and tablets in many school, and this access is helping create young people better prepared than ever for the next part of their lives.
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