The Ever-Changing Classroom: Technology Today

Story by Kourtney Mather

Technology is a constantly changing subject in today’s world. Every year new gadgets and apps come out, changing a wide spectrum of possibilities: from how jobs are done, to how cultures worldwide operate.  One area in which technology is changing is education; how materials and information are communicated to students, and how students learn and do their homework.
Today it is common for a student to find course materials, assignments, quizzes, and teachers’ comments all online.  This makes interacting with a teacher possible without ever speaking face-to-face.
In the duration of the last eight years alone, technology has progressed dramatically, increasing and improving with each consecutive year.
“We still used WEBCT back then,” said a 2003 University of Utah graduate, Jason Carter, of his college days. “They would mostly use it for syllabi and notes. In my senior year they starting putting quizzes up online too.”
This has not only made life more convenient for students, but it has sped up the learning process in classrooms, as well as making schooling an option for students who have difficult a schedule to work around.
“In 2002 most students showed up to class with a notebook and a pen,” explained Cory Stokes, the director of the Technology Assisted Curriculum Center at the University of Utah. “Many of today’s students walk into class with laptops or smart phones served by a high-speed wireless connection. They can access documents or look up information in a second – often answering their own questions.”
Stokes continues to explain the benefits of technology in school, “Perhaps the biggest technological advancement has been the explosion of fully-online classes, which sets students free to work class around the rest of their schedule.”
Even some of the older generation believes that that it would have been nice to have technology in their day. Forty years ago, everything was done with a paper and pencil, and the Internet was only a vague idea that few had heard of.
Jane Ridd, a class of 1970 graduate from the University of Utah said of today’s technology, “It would be so much more convenient, you wouldn’t have to get yourself through a storm to turn in your paper. When I was in school, an overhead projector was considered high tech.”
With technology progressing so quickly, it’s nearly impossible to imagine what a classroom may be like in even twenty years.  Stokes, however, did give a good idea of what to expect in the next couple years for the university.
“The new Canvas course system will replace the WebCT system by summer 2012,” Stokes explained. “Students can tell Canvas where they want to receive many different kinds of messages from their classes. You might have Canvas send your class announcements to Facebook and due date reminders as a text to your phone. Students will also like the Canvas mobile app when it is release this spring.”
While these changes are easy to imagine and close at hand, one thing is for certain about the far off future: technology will continue to progress and improve classroom communication and organization for years to come.

Word count: 547