Public school K–20 students across America have always been composed of children from families that have various religious beliefs, different learning abilities, and assorted demographic backgrounds. This cultural diversity is representative of the democratic foundations that give our country strength. An example of America’s multicultural ethnic makeup is described in the 1976 school house rock television episode titled “The Great American Melting Pot” (Ahrens ; Yohe, 1976). This video highlights the immigration history that created the United States of America and how our society can live in peaceful harmony. Reflecting on scripture I find inspiration from reading “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us” (Romans 12:6, The New King James Version).
The diversity of students in classrooms back in 1970 is significantly different from students that comprise today’s classrooms. Examples of recent shifts in school diversity have been a rise in numbers of Latino/a and Asian American children (Howard, 2018) and increased number of Autism Spectrum Disorder students in postsecondary schools (Elias & White, 2018). These students that fill the real-life classrooms of today are not only extremely diverse but are also surrounded with new applications of technology every day. Teachers must find ways to adapt to meet the challenges presented by a complex student body and the rapid evolution of technology.
To be effective in the classroom, the teacher needs to have knowledge of current educational standards, guidelines, and framework to address individual student needs. Examples such as the International Standards for Technology Educators (ISTE), Technology Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) framework, and the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines give insight into instructional strategies that support giving appropriate instruction for both distance learning and resident courses (Spector, Merrill, Elen, Bishop, 2014). Some schools are slow to include technology and this limits the ability for teachers to gain an understanding of the tremendous benefits that can be utilized. School districts and educational institutions that having a well-developed professional development program will be able to keep the knowledge of their staff current in the professional field of teaching. The significant increase in technology available both inside and outside of a classroom makes it necessary for teachers to know how to effectively use technology in the classroom.
Today’s use of mobile devices in the classroom can be related to the introduction of televisions in the classroom and playing educational videos. This initial placement of televisions was viewed by some as bad education similar to how mobile phones are being viewed as negative to learning today. By having an understanding of a wide variety of available technology-based tools a teacher can choose the best application technology for a given course. This ability to customize the educational material offers teachers an ability to better address the wide disparity of the learning abilities of students.