Information and communication technology has quickly become a key part of the infrastructure of classrooms and schools. From preschool to higher education, computers, laptops, smartphones, smart boards and tablets are powerful mediums through which to get information and communicate. In the 21st century, technology plays a role in every facet of education as students, teachers and administrators turn to their computers to access information, create and express themselves, communicate and collaborate, and track the achievement of learning outcomes.
Technology plays a central role to both students and teachers searching for information. Online reference material, such as Encyclopedia Britannica Online, offer vast amounts of content supplemented by engaging multimedia and interactive links. Ebook collections offer thousands of texts, and the sheer amount of online articles and journals devoted to every imaginable topic make research efficient and highly rewarding. Teachers looking to engage their students have access to thousands of images, diagrams, videos, maps, animation, games and a host of other options to appeal to the varied learning styles of their individual students. Today's broad access to educational resources encourages students to inquire more and follow pathways of information according to their own interests. Information technology thus plays a key role in the development of the autonomous learner.
Creativity and Self-Expression
Information and communication technology also plays a role in how students express themselves and reflect on their learning. Aided by the digital recording functions integrated into smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices, students are able to index the world the way they see it and add their own perspective to already existing bodies of knowledge to create original work. With audio, photo and video editing software and the various ways to post self-created media on the Web, students not only access information but contribute to its creation. The ability for students to be active members of the learning community, whether on the small scale of a school's social media site or on the larger canvas of the entire World Wide Web, gives their work broader significance and affirmation.
Communication and Collaboration
Information and communication technology provides students and teachers more opportunities to communicate and collaborate. With Learning Management Systems such as Blackboard and Moodle, many courses have an online space to participate in discussion threads and forums, chats, and video conferences. Collaborative functions in office applications allow students and teachers to view revisions and add comments in real time, making the process of relaying feedback more efficient. Technology further transcends traditional brick-and-mortar settings by providing working adults and parents taking care of children, geographically-isolated students, and the underprivileged the opportunity to connect and interact with learning communities through online schools and educational networks.
Student Achievement and Learning Outcomes
Information and communication technology also plays a role in how administrators assess the achievement of student learning outcomes. Various assessment tools such as standardized tests, student portfolios, rubrics, and surveys yield data that can be collaboratively analyzed by an educational institution to find areas in which to improve. As the data is entered into databases and statistics, charts and graphs are generated, and administrators identify patterns and make decisions involving changes in the curriculum and budget allocations. Technology has a prominent role in assessment and evaluation and helps direct curricula to the greater achievement of students.
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