Understanding The Achievement Gap
Not every student performs the same in class, and that’s something that educators need to address daily. This is called the achievement gap, and it refers to the factors that affect students’ performances. More specifically, students of different backgrounds might not have equal access to resources and academic opportunities. Some may not receive quality education due to low income, unstable housing, or other social issues. Others may be immigrants that experience linguistic barriers. All of the above put their educational experience in danger. However, educational technology, also known as EdTech, may solve this. Below, we will examine the role of EdTech in bridging the achievement gap.
Signs Of Achievement Gap
To address the achievement gap, educators must know of any limitations or barriers that cause an imbalance in students’ performances. For a start, educational systems should fight inequalities in the funding of school facilities. This means funding should be distributed evenly across facilities, regardless of location. Additionally, privileged schools should offer opportunities for diverse groups of students to join by possibly awarding scholarships or providing options for remote courses.
There are also cultural barriers that students from diverse backgrounds face. So, there should be educators that acknowledge everyone’s cultural background. This can be done by adding diverse resources to the curriculum and adapting the lessons to fit the varying needs of students. There should also be enough language support for students who aren’t attending lessons in their native language to protect their academic performance.
Absence Of Resources And Support
Schools that lack resources and support from the educational system are limiting their students’ opportunities for academic success. This, in combination with the difficult living conditions of people in underrepresented communities, doesn’t allow students to thrive. For instance, someone that doesn’t have appropriate access to healthcare or is experiencing food insecurity may not be able to focus on their education. Schools and teachers can offer support and resources that will help students improve their everyday lives and lead them toward personal and academic development.
EdTech’s Role In Solving The Issue
In traditional classrooms, teachers might not address each student’s individual needs, thus reinforcing the achievement gap. On the contrary, schools that leverage EdTech can offer personalized learning through tools that identify students’ learning preferences and requirements. This process ensures that students receive targeted educational material, which allows them to focus on areas that need improvement.
EdTech tools offer students many types of educational resources, such as updated online textbooks, articles, tutorials, and other valuable materials. This can help to bridge the gap in underprivileged school facilities that are equipped with inadequate resources. Teachers must encourage students to leverage those tools and explore different ideas, do research, and broaden their knowledge.
Bridging The Digital Divide
Students from remote areas or low-income backgrounds may not have the same access to technology and the internet, which causes the digital divide. Schools can use EdTech to bridge the gap by providing students with devices like laptops and tablets. Using these in classrooms allows students to interact with technology and familiarize themselves with the online learning space.
Examples Of EdTech
Adaptive Learning Systems
Adaptive learning systems are the foundation of personalized learning, as they use AI to analyze student data and shape learning paths accordingly. The systems identify patterns in students’ learning behavior and create content and tasks that address their strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Adaptive learning can help to bridge the achievement gap by allowing students to progress at their own pace and receive personalized support.
The rise of online learning has allowed more and more students to learn remotely or support their traditional education with additional resources. Through interactive lessons and engaging elements, like videos or animations, they enable students to work with a variety of content and gather multiple technological skills. Virtual classrooms replicate a traditional classroom in an online environment with the help of an LMS or VR platform. There, students can interact with their teachers and classmates in real time and collaborate with their peers.
Teachers can leverage educational data to make decisions about students’ performances and adjust their teaching strategies. Data can give valuable information about students’ learning behaviors and patterns. By assessing their performance this way, teachers are able to help students who struggle and provide targeted instruction and support. Learners will receive meaningful feedback and have the chance to apply it while their educators monitor the process and guide them.
How To Implement EdTech
To effectively implement EdTech solutions, educators need to collaborate with tech experts and other professionals. With the educators’ help, who will provide useful information regarding students’ needs and preferences, tech professionals will design and develop the right EdTech solutions that align with the learning goals and vision of the educational facility. The tools will be user-friendly and accessible to both teachers and students. Furthermore, tech pros can offer their guidance and support to teachers, helping them leverage the tools to the fullest and become comfortable using them.
Apart from the experts’ advice, teachers need to train on the necessary skills for using EdTech tools, too. There should be professional development programs during which teachers can use the tools and explore topics like Instructional Design, data analysis, and content creation. Additionally, educators should be presented with ways to adjust their teaching methods to introduce technology in classrooms. They could also learn how to share ideas with their colleagues successfully and constantly enrich their teaching plans with new approaches.
To know whether EdTech tools have succeeded in closing the achievement gap, educators must always evaluate the process. They need to gather data and other information to identify if the tools are helping students and improving the learning outcomes. This can be done through surveys, interviews, classroom discussions, and data analysis. However, it’s also useful to create a long-term plan about using those tools and evaluate if it will be fruitful based on the current results.
Educational facilities need to make policy changes to get the ground ready for the adoption of EdTech tools. First, there needs to be a high-speed internet connection in institutions funded by the government or educational authorities. Similarly, there must be a fairer resource distribution among schools so that every area can have support. Then, the curriculum needs to be revised to prepare students for the digital age and help them develop their technical skills.
The achievement gap is taking away the opportunity for quality education from many students. The digital age requires people to have strong technical skills and adaptational abilities, and EdTech can offer learning opportunities to every student, without excluding people due to their social and cultural status. Online lessons and customized learning pathways allow them to express themselves and proceed with their learning journey at their own pace. However, educators need to invest time and effort to create the best environment for the adoption of EdTech tools that will allow every single student to thrive, as well as keep up with emerging technologies that can further enrich educational experiences.