Rising graduation rates and educational achievement levels can yield little if students don’t know something of lasting value. It is a difficult task to provide equally strong learning experiences for all students, particularly in classes where the abilities vary greatly. Yet finding a way to do this is vitally important for teachers who want to improve achievement. Classroom technology allows students to customize the formats and tools needed to meet all the various ways of learning. Real-time assessment enhances student progress Using real-time evaluation systems to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the pupils— and adapting teaching methods to this knowledge — has shown to improve student development. Real-time assessment technology (e.g., class polling, end of lesson surveys, and online quizzes) is incredibly effective in increasing student achievement and positive student outcomes.
Digital technologies can promote educational achievement, but the secret to using technology to reduce the achievement gap and improve outcomes is to do so properly. Software for the sake of technology doesn’t benefit anybody–not pupils or instructors–and it’s not about taking what’s done offline and replicating online. Rather than merely digitizing learning, educators need to understand how learning experiences can be enhanced with technology. It is just as important for schools to invest in the right technologies to make sure teachers understand how technology will help educational goals. Knowing what hardware and software to invest in means making smart purchasing decisions that optimize school budgets. In order to teach effectively, potential college teachers also need to learn far more now. A large and growing body of useful knowledge has accumulated on learning and pedagogy, and on the nature and efficacy of alternative methods of instruction. In the meantime, the advent of new technologies has given rise to teaching methods that require special training. When information accumulates regarding promising ways of effectively educating students, recognizing challenges they encounter in learning the content and adapting teaching methods accordingly, the existing deficiencies in training that most graduate students are experiencing are becoming increasingly a disadvantage. Universities have already started to prepare graduate students for teaching by providing them with opportunities to assist teachers in large lecture courses and by creating centers where they can get help in becoming better teachers. More departments are beginning to provide, or even need, a limited amount of teaching instruction. Nonetheless, simply allowing students to act as essentially unsupervised teaching assistants, or establishing centers where they can get a brief orientation or some informal teaching sessions, will not adequately prepare them for a classroom career.
More comprehensive training is needed and as the body of relevant knowledge continues to expand will become ever more important. With all the talk about training doctoral students for employment outside of academia in graduate school circles, one has to wonder why departments are spending time preparing doctoral candidates for completely different occupations before they have established appropriate programs for the academic positions that graduate schools are supposed to serve and that most of their students continue to occupy. Some departments may fail to provide such instruction because they lack the necessary expertise, but provosts and deans may have recruited competent teachers from elsewhere in the university for such instruction.