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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Why Do We Need Technology Integration?

The myriad benefits of integrating technology into the classroom.

Technology is a ubiquitous part of children's lives. It is transparent. Most homes have connected computers or Internet-enabled devices. As prices of technology drop, computers and digital devices may replace television as we know it. When pioneering educational technology advocate Jan Hawkins wrote an essay for Edutopia in 1997, "The World at Your Fingertips: Education Technology Opens Doors," about how technology brings the tools of empowerment into the hands and minds of those who use them, she couldn't have known her words would be even more relevant today.

Now, walk into a classroom. Are there computers and if so, how are they being used? Are they being used at all? Technology has revolutionized the way we think, work, and play. Technology, when integrated into the curriculum, revolutionizes the learning process. More and more studies show that technology integration in the curriculum improves students' learning processes and outcomes. Teachers who recognize computers as problem-solving tools change the way they teach. They move from a behavioral approach to a more constructivist approach. Technology and interactive multimedia are more conducive to project-based learning. Students are engaged in their learning using these powerful tools, and can become creators and critics instead of just consumers.

NatureMapping brings real science to the classroom with hand-held data collection devices.

Another reason for technology integration is the necessity of today's students to have 21st century skills.

These 21st century skills include

  • personal and social responsibility
  • planning, critical thinking, reasoning, and creativity
  • strong communication skills, both for interpersonal and presentation needs
  • cross-cultural understanding
  • visualizing and decision making
  • knowing how and when to use technology and choosing the most appropriate tool for the task

A great starting point for more information about 21st century skills is the Partnership for 21st Century Skills website.

The Edutopia article "Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are Many" offers this summary: "Integrating technology into classroom instruction means more than teaching basic computer skills and software programs in a separate computer class. Effective tech integration must happen across the curriculum in ways that research shows deepen and enhance the learning process. In particular, it must support four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts."

Technology helps change the student/teacher roles and relationships: students take responsibility for their learning outcomes, while teachers become guides and facilitators. Technology lends itself as the multidimensional tool that assists that process. For economically disadvantaged students, the school may be the only place where they will have the opportunity to use a computer and integrate technology into their learning (for more about equity, access, and digital inclusion, check out our Digital Divide Resource Roundup.)

There is a growing body of evidence that technology integration positively affects student achievement and academic performance. The Center for Applied Research in Educational Technology (CARET) found that, when used in collaborative learning methods and leadership that is aimed at improving the school through technology planning, technology impacts achievement in content area learning, promotes higher-order thinking and problem solving skills, and prepares students for the workforce. Look at the research findings on student learning in CARET's Questions & Answers for the question: "How can technology influence student academic performance?"

You will find more links to research and resources in the Resources for Tech Integration section of this guide.

Continue to the next section of the guide, What Is Tech Integration?

Comments (29)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

JOSEPH's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I know technology is integrated to the development of skills one need to develop these days. But unfortunately what happens in most of the institutions is that they buy the technology, for example computers, internet etc,. and forget about the application, they don't teach children use technology as an assistant to complete their assignments, search knowledge and use it effectively in practical life, on the otherhand, it there to show the outside world, people have to learn to incorporate the technology, whatever be it, to the learning.

Richard's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I know technology is an important tool to be utilized by students at all levels of education grades K- post secondary school. Students who do not begin using various types of technology from kindergarten are at a disadvantage. If our students are to compete in the global economy of the 21st century they must be given the tools and the opportunity to use technology at all levels and subjects of their school work.

ileen's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I enjoyed this article on technology integration. It reminded me that technology is a tool, a very effective tool if used appropriately. Technology can help teachers move towards constructivism and project based learning, styles that promote student independence and responsibility. Students' learning and engagement can be enhanced. One concern I have had as we move more towards technology is the lack of social interaction.
From this article and others I am beginning to understand that communication and interpersonal skills play a large role in technology.

Lorna's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This post was not only interesting but very informative.

I taught in an alternative high school program, and most of our students do not have computers at home. They all have cell phones but not computers. So, we did all the computer assignments during school time.

I mostly had them work on biology at classzone and at first they did not like it. I guess some of them were a bit apprehensive about computer usage. We used the site mainly for review or to complete a webquest activity. After a while they really enjoyed it and said it does help them to remember the vocabulary taught in the lesson.

Sadly our school system has so many filters on the computer that we are unable to blog as a learning activity. However I am quite open to other types of technology that can be used to energize and make student learning more interactive.

I use power points for my biology class and within the power point I have video clips related to the topic embedded in the power point. The students love the clips and this helps them to remember what we were focusing on in the lesson.all this neat stuff is for biology, I would really love to find some neat stuff for Algebra 1 and Geometry.

Pam Bloch's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Ileen!!!!!!!!! I have had this same fear for years, going back to my own children spending too much time online on the internet, playing games online with a world wide community of people in my opinion was NOT learning to socially interact properly! To a large degree I still believe I am right, however that can be changed. I believe that learning real online etiquette is one way to do it. Teaching online manners, introducing oneself, always responding respectfully, not cutting people off, etc. can greatly enhance the social interaction piece of this. I also think that as children get more and more into skype, podcasting, webcams, e-pals, etc. where real INTERACTION takes place, and many times where voice, face and body expression can be read that social skills can and will flourish. Pam

Dawn Edwards's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Project based learning eliminates the feeling of priviledge some students possess; project based learning allows for differentiations. Students self reflect on their learning and are in control of their learning versus being told what they will learn.

Technology assists the process of gaining knowledge and responding to the knowledge, through differentiated learning.

The numerous options are exciting. let the learning proceed.
Dawn Edwards
CESU

Tess Storrs's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am looking forward to learning how to use technology to work on personal, social and academic responsiblity with my students. I am also looking forward to a "smooth" integration of technology into the curriculum. I'm finding that my smoothest moves towards integrating technology occur with the graphing calculators which are readily available in my classroom.

Debbie Mayer's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Just look at the given list of 21st century skills - as I see it, 3 out of 6 of them can ONLY be done using a computer: excellent communication skills, visualizing and designing, being able to choose the correct tech tool.
It is SO important! I hope that I can find a way to better integrate technology in my 1-2 classroom!

Juan 's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Technology is a part of humanity that evolves with it. Our learning styles do not adapt to the technology but they are one and the same...they evolve side by side. Older generations might not adapt to the new technology as fast but it is possible. Those who decide not to evolve with technology miss out an opportunity...they see technology as an obstacle thus it becomes one... San Diego State represent

LesLee T's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Wow. I loved the article and completely agree with Pam Bloch's statement about the lack of social skills due to youngsters not learning how to display proper online etiquette. I have 2 grown children- aged 19 and 21- and both had great experiences using technology in their classrooms while attending grades 5-12. During their earlier years, however, technology in the classroom consisted of using Paint or Word (both of which are great starters). It just seems that today, educators have everything available to use technology, but perhaps need more help in implementing it. Text messaging is a great convenience, and students as young as 7 and 8 are pro's at it. We need to look into expanding their horizons and helping them to develop online etiquette. Much of that etiquette, however, is directly related to the student's social skills in a live social setting. Once a person learns how to say 'please' and 'thank you' in a real social setting, he/she will carry that etiquette to their online interactions. Even if it is just a basic "TY" (thank you).

TTYL (Talk To You Later)

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