Cambridge Assessment International Education recently released the findings of their 2018 Global Education Census, a survey that asked nearly 20,000 teachers and students ages 12 to 19 from across the world what their education environment was like. Unsurprisingly, the researchers found an increase of technology use in schools across the globe.
However, the term technology is broad and includes things we may not traditionally view as technology such as whiteboards, which were used by 73 percent of students during lessons. Technologies we are more accustomed to such as desktop computers and smartphones are also on the rise with 48 percent and 42 percent of students reporting using them during class respectively.
Even though changes are happening globally, the quickest integration of technology in the classroom is occurring in the United States. Cambridge found that the United States ranked highest in desktop, smartboard, and smartphone use. Other countries such as China ranked highest in tablet use, while smaller nations such as Indonesia was found to have the most whiteboards at 92 percent, meaning they have almost completely done away with traditional chalkboards.
Cambridge also asked students about their technology use outside of the classroom when completing their homework. In the United States 85 percent of students reported using a laptop when doing their homework. While 84 percent of students in other countries such as Argentina used their smartphones instead. Even though the increase in these technologies is clear, Cambridge stressed that these technologies are not simply replacing older tools and methods, but rather working alongside them in a supportive role.
Millersville University’s own Early, Middle & Exceptional Education Chair Dr. Marcia Nell agrees with and echoes Cambridge’s sentiment when it comes to the role of technology in education. “Technology in the classroom is meant to be used as a tool, not a replacement,” says Dr. Nell.
Here at Millersville University seeing technology in the classroom is quite common. It is often the choice of students whether to use technology or not, but some professors will diversify their teaching methods as well by integrating laptops or smartphones into their lessons. Even though Cambridge found that technology use increases with grade level, it appears that at least some form of technology is being implemented at all levels of education.
Though Dr. Nell supports the use of technology in the classroom she errs on the side of caution when it comes to infants and younger children.
“Screen time is hugely important with the young children; from zero to two [years old] the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends zero screen time.” Dr. Nell explains that infants respond to almost every stimulus, and that screens produce too much stimulus for them to process properly.
In the coming years it will be important to study not just the use of technology in classrooms, but its effects on mental development with longterm use. Currently, most studies suggest allowing minimal technology use for young children.
As technology increases in availability across the world, educational establishments will have to find the best ways to integrate it into the learning process. The Cambridge Global Education Census has shown that these changes have already begun to occur and are happening at a rapid pace. It will be up to the educators to find ways to combine traditional teaching methods with technology to better the education of students around the world.