Why Use Technology?

Why Use Technology to Reach Children?

Effective teaching in this century will depend more and more on the use of the vast resources of the Web and other digital media coupled with the individual creativity of educators to equip students with the methods of understanding and negotiating the information that now is available to all. Technology – appropriately used – can greatly enhance the delivery of CE due to several advantages:

  • Cost-effective. For example, lesson plans can be
    made available to teachers on the FS Web site much more cost effectively than distributing them by print.
     
  • Efficient. Some technology enables information to change or be added immediately, which helps to make CE relevant and responsive.
     
  • No requirement for physical access. Some media, such as electronic field trips, enable students to virtually “visit” locations where they would never have an opportunity to go physically to learn about the importance of areas beyond their local communities.
     
  • Low barriers of affluence. While some low-income groups and/or communities may not have the same access to media, many others have benefited from grants that have helped equalize resources. For example, many rural states have received teleconferencing equipment that enables them to
    enrich the course offerings in their rural schools.
     
  • Learning styles. Students learn in all kinds of ways, and distance learning technology offers an other option for aligning instructional activities to certain learning styles.
     
  • Access to non-English-speaking students. Technology can be used to cost-effectively reach non-English-speaking students. For example, it may be cost prohibitive to reach a handful of Spanish-speaking students in a school, but a television program broadcast in Spanish throughout a school district could reach many Spanish-speaking students.
     
  • Two-way communication. Web chats, call-in television broadcasts, webcasts, discussion boards, and other distance learning options can all provide opportunities for two-way communication.
     
  • Interactive. Many emerging uses of technology provide the means by which users take part in collaborative problem-solving and/or shape the flow of information. These are among the most recent uses of media in which users contribute to the content, contribute ideas, and develop something entirely new (for example, the Web encyclopedia Wikipedia and YouTube).

In summary, technology – carefully and appropriately used – can help the Forest Service achieve its conservation education mission, which is “to work with partners to coordinate development and delivery of high quality, science-based education about forests, grasslands, and related natural resources to pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students and their educators, in formal and nonformal settings.”