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The most pressing question any student asked a teacher is, “When will I ever use this in the real world”?

I remember this question being asked many times when I was a student. I remember this question being asked, to me, when I was a high school teacher. I’ve heard it asked by students as I observed teachers. If I could read minds, I’m sure some of my students asked the same question early on when I started as an adjunct professor. It’s been asked for decades and answered in various ways to impress upon students the importance of what was happening in the classroom and how that should, could, would translate in life outside of school.

In today’s classroom the answer to this question is easier to answer, if we are properly embedding educational technology into the learning environment. If we are using desktop computers, laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, smartphones, Google Classroom, Microsoft 365, or other digital devices and cloud based tools in some aspect of our classrooms then the answer to the age-old question is: EVERYDAY!

We use technology every single day outside of the classroom from an ATM machine, to a scanner at a store, to ordering items online, and much more. If we connect the learning that needs to occur in the classroom with the technology that will be used in our society in perpetuity then the question becomes irrelevant because what needs to be learned and how it is learned are meshed in “real” world experiences.

Using educational technology as a part of the learning environment empowers students to take control of their learning. It allows them to explore topics beyond the standard textbook examples. And it provides them opportunities to see how the classroom lesson translates into the “real” world. But more importantly the “real” world and the classroom become one.