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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

An Introduction to Technology Integration

Integrating technology with classroom practice can be a great way to strengthen engagement by linking students to a global audience, turning them into creators of digital media, and helping them practice collaboration skills that will prepare them for the future. Read a short introductory article.
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An Introduction to Technology Integration (Transcript)

Sal Khan: People have been integrating technology in the classroom forever. What I think is really exciting about what we're seeing now is that technology is being used to fundamentally transform what the classroom is. Fundamentally transform what you can do with a classroom.

Adam Bellow: I think to define technology integration, it's really using whatever resources you have to the best of your abilities. Technology, it's a tool. It's what you do with that tool, what you can make, what you allow the students to make. That's really what technology is about. If you can do this lesson without technology, that's great. But if you can do it better with technology, then that's why you use it. That's why you use tools.

Divya (student): This is a list of different applications that you can use to like make music or do art. I've used it to record some of my personal narratives that I've wroten [sic].

Divya: My eyes were drooping. I was drifting off to sleep.

Mary Beth Hertz: Students today are creating using digital tools. They're not creating using analog tools. For us to feel like we really are connecting with our kids, and to make learning fun for our kids and meaningful, we need to meet them where they are.

Mary Beth: Kids can create podcasts, movies, songs to express their ideas, express their thoughts. but also to express their learning.

Adam: When you create, you take ownership of your learning. You understand it in a very different way than if you just memorize something from a textbook, or if you just read it over and over again, or watched it in someone else's film. If you were able to translate that information into your own film, your own content, your own something to share. That's just amazing.

Mary Beth: And sometimes they learn things we didn't expect them to learn. Like I had my second graders reflect on the project they did, and some of them said, "I learned how to get along with somebody," or, "I learned how to work with somebody."

Mary Beth: This internet thing that has become a big part of our lives. It's really enabled people around the world to connect in ways we never imagined.

Adam: People always say that the kids respond better when they're able to share their work. Well, of course! Because they have a valid audience. It doesn't go into a pile on the teacher's desk, and then get handed back to their folder. Kids today can create stuff and share it with the entire world. And they have that authentic audience. They have people that actually, not only will read it, but also care about it.

Mia (student): We have to make like a movie project. So you kind of have -- you have a topic. And with your topic, you speak into a microphone, and then you draw pictures to go with what you're saying.

Asim (student): If they have the link to our website, which they might end up getting -- like searching something on Google, and this might pop up. And so yeah, there is a chance of kids around the world getting to see these videos.

Sal: The traditional academic model, you know, that we've inherited from the Prussians 200 years ago is: We have a set amount of time to learn something, and then there's an exam. You get a B; I get a C. Even though the exam identified that you have some basic weaknesses, I have even more weaknesses, we'll then move on to the next concept. So instead of doing that traditional, everyone move together in lock-step model, with technology, you have the potential to everyone learn at their own pace, and master concepts before they move on. Have the teacher get real-time dashboards to see who's stuck on what. Now something like that is a fundamental transformation of what a classroom is.

Adam: The role of the teacher has shifted. I'm truly seeing a world where the person who's in the role of teacher is really a facilitator. And if you can facilitate your students to create great work, and work alongside with them to do that, that's amazing to me.

Mary Beth: It's not about the mode of creation, it's not about the tool, it's about the learning, it's about the process, it's about the look on my students' faces, the fact that they can stay focused, motivated, engaged, and they're sharing ideas. Really makes learning joyful.

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  • Director: Zachary Fink
  • Editor: Stanislav Basovich, Daniel Jarvis
  • Camera: Vanessa Carr, Zachary Fink, Mario Furloni, Josh Miller, Joseph Rivera, Brian Troy
  • Audio: Thomas Gorman
  • Digital Media Curator: Amy Erin Borovoy
  • Executive Producer: David Markus

Classroom footage in this video is from the Tech2Learn video series, a co-production with the Teaching Channel.

Technology Integration Overview

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paul.maniscalco's picture
5th grade/ ITC candidate

Digital Storytelling: Creating a Photo Novel

Leslie Rule, who created the term "digital storytelling" describes it as "the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling. Digital stories derive their power by weaving images, music, narrative and voice together, thereby giving deep dimension and vivid color to characters, situations, experiences, and insights (Rule, 2010)."
Digital story telling is not a new concept to those who use technology regularly in the classroom. But for those who don't, this is written especially for you. It is an incredibly effective tool for students to retell or summarize what they learned and actually have an enjoyable experience while doing it. Students who may avoid participating in class now have the ability to use these new forms of communications to make themselves heard (Driscoll, 2007). And in the end, they create a project that they are proud of and are more than willing to share. And with today's technology it can be shared instantly and be a part of their academic record for time to come.
The project is a fairly simple one by technology standards and it can be accomplished from start to finish with minimal teacher input, but results in maximum student output. Tool used are common ones and most students will be familiar with their use. Those who aren't can learn from a partner or from a quick teacher tutorial.
Students will recreate a story, scene or historical event by taking a digital photograph, editing it and then creating a comic book style setting box and speech or thought bubbles. The final project can be shared as a hard copy graphic novel type presentation or as part of a slide show like power point or using a web tool like Animoto.
Students need to have completed their content knowledge prior to beginning. For example, students should finish reading a novel or completing a history unit of study. Students will need to write a brief summary and then storyboard it. A storyboard looks like a simplified comic book with a quick sketch or even stick figure drawing of what the scene will look like.
The next step is having the students create a tableau (a 'scene') and take a picture of it. Using costumes can help, but is not necessary. It is the next part, using the pictures, that is the true test of using technology.
After printing the picture students can cut out the figures and then find an appropriate background onto which students will glue the figures. Students can scan the picture and then drop it into Microsoft Word where they can use the drawing tools to add setting boxes and dialogue or thought bubbles. They can use these in a slide show or create PDFs easily. They will look something like this.

Students can also take the picture and cut it out electronically using Photoshop, Pixie or another photo editing tool. They can copy and paste a background and then copy and paste the figures on top of it. Afterwards, like the old school method, they can choose how they want to display their final product. They can lay it out electronically and print it like a comic or make it part of a slide show.
The slide show can work well also if students write a script and have different student play the characters as the slide show is shown. Special effects and music can create a movie for a presentation to other classes, parents or a Social Studies night atmosphere.
From personal experience I can attest to the power of digital storytelling. It is proven practice and can help promote outside of the box thinking from some students or might be the perfect accommodation for others who are less likely to be able to summarize or report back their acquisition of the requisite content knowledge. Students who may avoid participating in class now have the ability to use these new forms of communications to make themselves heard (Driscoll, 2007). Digital storytelling is a very powerful and real means of communicating and is another effective tool in the teacher arsenal.

Driscoll, K. (2007). Collaboration in today's classrooms: New web tools change the game. Multimedia & Internet@Schools, 14(3), 9-12. Retrieved October 25, 2012 from ProQuest Educational Journals. DOI: 229765023

Rule, L. (2010). Digital storytelling: Never has storytelling been so easy or powerful. Knowledge Quest, 38(4), 56-57. Retrieved December 2, 2012 from ProQuest Educational Journals.DOI: 609381695

Anthony Kennedy Nzuki's picture
Anthony Kennedy Nzuki
Specialist in Gifted and Talented Education

I look at all this integration aspect in learning with a lot of interest and wish that I can implement it in ordinary Kenyan schools were majority of the children are. The tricky bit is that the teachers are not tech savvy and the computers are not available. I want to begin model centers based in the forty eight counties in the country. This will be based in main towns were internet connectivity is possible. If you have a computer you can donate please join in my SEND US A COMPUTER appeal. If you have the courage and the time, please volunteer to come to Kenya and help me start by training model teachers. You can reach me on

Mark Newton's picture
Mark Newton
High school journalism teacher

It's called journalism. Producing a student news magazine or yearbook or news broadcast is exactly what you are talking about here. Check out

Tyler Farr's picture

In the ever changing world, by engaging students in new ways that translate into the real world, we will be more successful as teachers. I am still in college and getting ready to take a leap into the incredible journey that will be my career. I want to use technology to teach High School and Middle School students concepts in English that will be exciting an engaging. I don't want students to hate English anymore, and I hope that I can utilize technology to do that in the future!

Debra.Clark's picture
High School Health teacher, and ESOL K-12

My ESOL high school class will need to present a poetry slam to the school. We are a dozen students and welcome ideas, as this is our first time doing this. Some of the students have only had one year of English.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Manager

Hi Debra, are you planning on integrating technology in some way? Is that why you're asking about it in this comment thread?

william M. Wendt's picture

I have been integrating multi-media in my college classroom by teaching totally from my Ipad-mini streaming to a large LCD screen but using the Apple TV hooked to the LCD. In that way I can easily switch from the Text (on Courssmart), to the Internet, and to my Powerpoint slides. The class loves it and it means that I do not carry a ton of papers and the textbook to class. It works and I have incorporated this into my Blackboard courses and also introduced my students to Groups of 5, where they are required to make at least three presentations to the class during the semester. wmwendt

VESALIUS's picture
"Nulla di grande è stato fatto nel mondo, senza una grande passione."

"La educacion y la medicina avanzan hacia la personalizacion
y nos obligan a engendrar un nuevo modelo social.
La prevencion sera mas importante que la curacion."

ziprosa agneta's picture

I am about to facilitate a workshop on ICT intergration into our school system and it has been exciting to learn how most schools are utilizing this aspect of teaching.I am very excited about trying to inspire my teachers on embracing ICT

Aly Silver's picture

I am currently getting my masters id Ed Tech, and this video demonstrates the positive role that technology can have in the classroom. As a teacher, our role has changed over the years; we are more like coaches now. We (hopefully) have some form of technology that we can incorporate and we can encourage our students to become independent thinkers, problem solvers, and explore their creativity. Most of the jobs that are being created today are technology based, so we should be teaching our students skills that they will be able to use in their future.

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