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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Technology Integration

Technology Integration

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So, I'm wondering, do you think that technology has truly made a difference in the quality of teaching and learning within the core subject areas? How often do non-technology teachers really use technology in their classrooms to benefit learning? In what ways do they do this? I'm feeling pessimistic and I hope that I'm wrong.

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Claudia Prada's picture
Claudia Prada

[quote]So, I'm wondering, do you think that technology has truly made a difference in the quality of teaching and learning within the core subject areas? How often do non-technology teachers really use technology in their classrooms to benefit learning? In what ways do they do this?

I'm feeling pessimistic and I hope that I'm wrong.[/quote]

Sharijo2's picture
GED tutor; starting online Masters in Adult Education soon.

As a substitute teacher I see a lot of schools. I get very frustrated when I see an empty computer lab that is mainly used for testing. I want to take it over and make it useful to the students and teachers. But for now I am a lowly sub. I am going to school online to change that however. The comments are a welcome education for when I take over the school systems computers.

Emmett Dennis's picture

I believe we should use technology in the classroom as an "enhancement" tool to reinforces our traditional face-to-face interactions with students. In my class this includes PowerPoint presentations, online homework assignments, pdf files of textbook pages online, and sometimes, online quizzes. My students are more engaged with the subject matter that I teach when I do this. I get excellent feedback from them afterwards. I am a Mathematics teacher.

Michelle Nelson's picture

I am currently applying new reading-aid technologies in my middle school reading groups and have found the technology both simple to use and incredibly beneficial to the students, in terms of their leve of interest and increasing reading progress. The technology I use is an MP3 player that contains audiobooks particular to the classroom library set I am using. Most of my students are so used to iPods and the like that they have absolutely no problems picking up the new technology. In fact, they're more excited about picking up their books when they know they can listen along to the audio version (which has different voices and sound effects).

I think this form of technology integration is a great place to start. It mirrors what the students are already being exposed to outside of school (iPods, cell phones, etc), and is modular enough to be applied to an existing program. Plus, it's been doing wonders for my struggling readers. I believe strongly that students in reading must be able to connect words on a page with spoken language, and technology has made this integration immediate.

Long story short, I think we're headed in the right direction with technology integration. As times change we must learn to adjust our practices to the new needs and goals of our students. But I do believe we need to take baby steps to get there. Start using modular technology that fits into existing programs, or setting up tech standards per district. It would be wonderful to get some kind of standard for technology use nation-wide, but of course that isn't going to happen overnight!

I should mention that the MP3 player I'm using in my class is a device called the Book Buddy. You can see it at their website here: http://www.scobre.com/

Susan Graham's picture
Susan Graham
educational researcher, curriculum developer, and all around education gal

I'm struggling with what the definition is of integration of technology in the classroom.

In my opinion, I don't consider a computer that's used for a powerpoint presentation to be any different than a more sophisticated version of an overhead projector or archaic slide projector. On the other end of the spectrum, is technology or the teacher the instructor if a student is plopped in front of a computer as they are with some software products (i.e. Read 180) while a teacher simply logs in to check if a student completed a task?

I think elementary and middle schools have many resources that are pre-packaged tools that build technology into the instruction. Secondary school teachers aren't so lucky.

All in all, Andrew-- It's coming into our schools. However, it's just taking an awfully long time. The change isn't going to be as dramatic as the internet killing off print newspapers. I do think it will be a similar revolution in pedagogy, traditional print publishing, and technology.

On another note... Is there a place on Edutopia and elsewhere to learn which educational publishers (print and software) offer technology that are easily integrated into the core content areas? I bet that would be popular.

Lin Jenkins's picture

I agree that the computer & projector used to show the PowerPoint is just a snazzy new version of the old standby. But what if the kids are creating the slideshow? Used as the final product of a group project, or as a book report or digital storytelling framework, a slideshow can definitely be classed as "Tech Integration." Creating a slideshow requires students to learn how to sequence information, think visually, import pictures or text, summarize the topic into succinct points, make decisions on which animations, transitions, and effects to use (and when to stop!), and much more. All these are useful skills, and by working with a rubric and having kids grade their own work first, you are really strengthening their evaluative thinking (the tip of Bloom's taxonomy).

And they think they are getting to do something that's fun!

Kathy Morlan's picture
Kathy Morlan
High School English Teacher

- I think Tech Integration for some teachers is using 23-year-old tools to reach 16-year-old students. Most students do not know the world without PowerPoint.
- For some teachers TI is using a SmartBoard as a PowerPoint.
- TI, I believe, can be as simple as playing a song to spark interest in the topic under discussion to creating a full featured video with interactive titles.
I know that, when I have my students use technology to demonstrate what they now know, I see no achievement gap - or at least very little.
I know that when I use technology, my students are more interested, more focused, and more ready to learn. There's just something about the bright glow of a screen to warm the cockles of one's amygdala.

Dave Cornelius's picture
Dave Cornelius
EDream Designer and professional development trainer.

It seems to me that we often look at a technology with an outdated mindset.

We struggle to apply the new tools to an old industrial model of teaching that pushes the information we deem important out to students and we expect them to buy in. The problem is, regardless of the tools we use they believe much of what we push is irrelevant and bears little relation to what they expect to encounter in the real world.

Perhaps if we used tech tools to enable students to pull what they want when they want and become place neutral and time independent it would have a greater impact. We forget that their "always on connection" is physically "rewiring" the way their brains operate. They are much more in tune with a self directed discovery model that inspires curiosity and begins to impact what they do and when they do it.

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