Web-Based Resources Provide Better Learning Opportunities for Educators and Students
With its vast potential and global reach, the Internet places increasing demands for our nation’s educators. School administrators have rapidly ramped up their infrastructures and now scramble to find trained and knowledgeable people to maintain them.
The need to quickly identify student’s skill deficiencies and collect more accurate data and timely student information is critical. Real-time student information, especially for programs such as NCLB, can drive actual state funding and determine whether administrators and teachers are getting results.
Some suggest the Internet will bridge the gap between school and home and increasing numbers of teachers have already incorporated web-based resources into their curriculum to expand instruction time beyond the typical classroom day.
Although web-based tools may not be the answer to everything it can be an important learning tool to benefit everyone — teachers, students, administrators and parents.
You can start by considering these points and matching your needs and goals to a web-based technology program that will benefit you and your students:
Not all students in a class have the same skill level or knowledge base. Web-based tools can help teachers diagnose an individual student’s skill deficiencies and prescribe lessons and activities to help that student reach skill level mastery.
Not all students learn at the same pace. Web-based programs help to extend learning time to before and after school, summer school, or at home – where a child can learn virtually at any time.
Not all students learn the same way — some are visual learners, some auditory, some both, some neither. Interactive web-based tools include a variety of learning modalities to motivate students and support diverse learning styles.
Teachers desire to maintain continuity in a time-limited classroom, but must strive to challenge gifted students while helping struggling students succeed. A big advantage of web-based instruction is the ability to provide one-to-one tutoring in a self-paced learning environment.
Teachers want to expand their knowledge, talk with peers, develop professional networks, find new course materials, collaborate on projects, trouble-shoot problems, or share best practices. The web can provide a network of people, valuable information, interaction and resources to tap the education community around the globe.
Consider the focus on state exams and the goal to optimize performance. Well-developed web-based programs can supplement the teachers’ efforts and provide coverage of skills commonly found on standardized tests. Some programs will collect and report data. Some programs present lessons and skills in a similar format to actual tests. This helps the student feel more familiar and comfortable with the process of test taking.
Consider the responsibility of assisting non-traditional students in hard-to-reach or teach student populations such as special needs, older students, migratory students, students in rural areas, and home and hospital bound students. The web provides outstanding opportunities for distance learning and continued instruction for these students.
Consider the role of the school technology coordinator who must work to solve maintenance and installation issues around hardware and software, grapple with storage issues of floppy diskettes, CD-ROM’s, and videos. They wrestle with incompatibility problems related to computer operating systems. This can be overwhelming for the best-trained technology teacher or most computer-savvy person. Web-based delivery can eliminate many of these issues. CD-ROM’s and floppy disks are not necessary and there are fewer problems related to installation and operating systems in general.
Finally, consider the parent who wants to know more about “how” their child is learning; what topics they study; what “progress” they are making. Web-based tools open new channels of communication for time-constrained parents and offer new avenues to connect communities with schools.
With so much potential, there are certainly pros and cons to using web-based tools in education. In this article, we have attempted to identify some of the positive opportunities for educators.
Web-based tools can genuinely support the teacher, collect and disseminate real-time information, eliminate technology problems, extend learning opportunities, and prepare students for tests.
Spearheading this revolution is a new generation of administrators and teachers who will utilize web-based learning tools to help students prepare for the information age we now live in.