Using digital resources in the classroom is a conversation that continues to grow due to the increase in digital media over the past two decades. It is a conversation I enjoy having, because I recognize the possibilities and benefits of technology in the classroom. Granted, technology can either be helpful or harmful depending on how it is used, so digital mediums should be approached with caution and understanding of their use.
One of the most influential form of digital media are databases for sources online. Many historians and teachers such as T. Mills Kelly and John K. Lee recognize the importance of such online resources and discuss them in their articles, “The Role of Technology in World History Teaching” and “Pre-service Social Studies Teachers’ ‘Reckoning’ with Historical Interpretations and Controversy Arising from the use of Digital Historical Resources,” respectively. Kelly praises online databases, but cautions the use of Google to find viable sources. Lee argues that sources found online are important to building students’ understating of history, but some teachers must first “recognize and reconcile their personal beliefs regarding the controversial nature of some digital historical documents.”
The discussion of online sources for use in history classrooms is vital and one that must be had; however, I am also interested in what other benefits the world of technology can offer. My boyfriend is a computer science major and works in Belk Library with Technology Services. We often have discussions about the different types of technology the library offers students as resources, such as 3D printers, Oculus Rifts, Arduino kits, even a video game room. I’ve had the opportunity to explore these different devices at various Technology Showcases the library hosts, and I’ve had additional discussions with library staff about their uses in a classroom.
In his brief article “Digital Tools: Outfitting a Teacher’s Arsenal,” Ben Walsh mentions that schools should “direct funds into technology via people.” I think this is a very important point. Kelly also notes that the training of faculty imperative. After all, a teacher that has little clue about how to use technology in the classroom will get little to nowhere with their students.
I would also argue that some funds should be allocated to explore other technologies, such as the resources our library has. Many public schools may not have a large budget but perhaps they could collaborate with nearby universities.
Students have grown up surrounded by technology, and they are constantly engaged with it. To engage with students in our classrooms, technology is key. Often, while in the classroom, students may become distracted by their smartphones and Facebook on their laptops. To combat this, we should use what interests them.