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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are Many

There's a place for tech in every classroom.
By Edutopia
Edutopia Team
VIDEO: An Introduction to Technology Integration
Technology is ubiquitous, touching almost every part of our lives, our communities, our homes. Yet most schools lag far behind when it comes to integrating technology into classroom learning. Many are just beginning to explore the true potential tech offers for teaching and learning. Properly used, technology will help students acquire the skills they need to survive in a complex, highly technological knowledge-based economy.
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. Effective technology integration is achieved when the use of technology is routine and transparent and when technology supports curricular goals.

Many people believe that technology-enabled project learning is the ne plus ultra of classroom instruction. Learning through projects while equipped with technology tools allows students to be intellectually challenged while providing them with a realistic snapshot of what the modern office looks like. Through projects, students acquire and refine their analysis and problem-solving skills as they work individually and in teams to find, process, and synthesize information they've found online.

The myriad resources of the online world also provide each classroom with more interesting, diverse, and current learning materials. The Web connects students to experts in the real world and provides numerous opportunities for expressing understanding through images, sound, and text.

New tech tools for visualizing and modeling, especially in the sciences, offer students ways to experiment and observe phenomenon and to view results in graphic ways that aid in understanding. And, as an added benefit, with technology tools and a project-learning approach, students are more likely to stay engaged and on task, reducing behavioral problems in the classroom.

Technology also changes the way teachers teach, offering educators effective ways to reach different types of learners and assess student understanding through multiple means. It also enhances the relationship between teacher and student. When technology is effectively integrated into subject areas, teachers grow into roles of adviser, content expert, and coach. Technology helps make teaching and learning more meaningful and fun. Return to our Technology Integration page to learn more.

Technology Integration Overview

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Erin Evans's picture
Erin Evans
IB Math teacher at an international school in Seoul, South Korea

I totally agree with the comments made in the article. Technology should become an integral part of a class and not simply and add-on that is barely touched on. Misty made a great point that there is so much out there for us to choose from. I use basic technology right now that most IB math teachers likely use such as the graphing calculator that helps students calculate so much more than when I was in school. I know I need to have more faith that I can hand over some of my teaching, that I am in control of, to technology that students can learn just as much from if not more. I have to realize that by students using the technology and working through the concepts with me as a facilitator or coach, it is usually going to be more productive than simply listening to me.

echo-y's picture
High School IB English Teacher

The first thing I noticed was the published date of this article as well.
From the experience of my school, I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have someone who knows what he or she is doing to lead tech integration. Schools often make the mistake of just buying devices, the new trend and cool thing to do, without any direction or guidance to move the teachers and students forward. It's like the U.S. giving SmartBoards and all sorts of expensive lab equipment to Title I schools without the buy-in of the teachers or the trainers to let them get excited over them. I'm fortunate enough to have grown in an amazing school that saw it valuable to hire an incredible eLearning director who knows how to teach, inspire, and use the technology that the school decided to invest in. Teacher buy-in through inspiration is key, and it's sad to see many so schools missing that key component.

Jo Harvey-Wilcox's picture
Jo Harvey-Wilcox
English Teacher, Shropshire UK

You would think that Melissa http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-introduction#comment-150461 was right when she said that "there should be little debate on if or why" we should integrate ET, but I have been amazed, no depressed, by the resistance to and lacklustre approach to Education technology in the UK education system. I have been out of the National Curriculum for 5 years in international schools where they are a little more inclined to be leaders in the technology. On my return I realise that in those 5 years things have not moved. Whist the world has got "SMART" technology the UK has dumbed down. Here we have not yet managed to disentangle the concept of ICT (teaching computing) from ET (improving education with technology). Gove promised a "Serious intelligent conversation about this in 2012 but all we got was "Better learning through technology" http://repository.alt.ac.uk/2219/
Read more about this at Ed Tech Now. http://edtechnow.net/tag/michael-gove/

I hope that things here change (I am chipping away in my little corner)

Marion Statton's picture
Marion Statton
High School music teacher, currently at Seoul Foreign School

I have to say the date of posting jumped out at me, and we could think that the wheels of educational change are slow - but look who and what we are dealing with. Like any change it has to come from within - and the people on the inside are the teachers and students. Let's face it the students have the hardware in their hands so maybe we make their technology work for us as best we can and work the apps. as much as possible.

Debora Wondercheck's picture
Debora Wondercheck
Executive Director, Founder of Arts & Learning Conservatory

The future of technology in education can be revolutionary and endless. Because technology is rapidly changing and affects student's lives in and out of the classroom, it is important that the integration of technology be carefully implemented at a reasonable pace.

Ginger's picture
Honors English 9/Drama I-IV & Drama Tech/Drama & Forensic Coach

I cannot express how many teachers have agree with your "cart before the horse" theory when it comes to technology integration in school systems. First off, I have to admit I am glad that there are schools out there investing in technology. The alternative is the lack of technology and in the 21st Century, no technology means being left behind. On the other hand, what good is a device if no one really knows how to use it. There seems to be so much talk about how and what we can do with technology instead of hands on demonstration of how to use technology.
Another factor rests in what schools are willing to invest in after the technology is purchased. If school systems rely on free apps and free webs, they will get exactly what they pay for...nothing. So many apps and sites that are free are limited or offer a simple fast of what could be possible of funds were involved; but, schools that have already invested big bucks in the technology often do not want to or do not have the money to invest more in loading them with useful research-based practice successful tools. Of course some of the free "stuff" works, but the limitations sometime cause more work than necessary. Teachers may be quick to give up and go back to pencil and paper if they are not offered user-friendly applications along with proper training so that they can feel like successful facilitators in the classroom.
The argument might be that since the students are supposedly advanced in these skills, they can help the teacher figure it all out. I spend more time trying to help students do simple tasks on iPads than one might possibly imagine. If I were having them play a game, they would be experts in minutes. If the students love games, we need to have access to educational games that involve standards, critical thinking, and are user friendly for teachers.
Seems as though by the time the adults figure it all out, the technology we are working toward becomes as new and exciting as the shoe box size cell phone. We need to stay ahead of our children. We need help getting there to be successful! We do need an incredible eLearning director to help us in this rapid paced journey!

Michelle Gasser's picture
Michelle Gasser
4th grade teacher from Colorado

The part of this article that stood out to me was:

Effective tech integration must happen across the curriculum in ways that research shows deepen and enhance the learning process.

I think that so often we use technology as a substitute for what students could do using paper and pencil. Such as a typing up a story or research paper. Or we use it to run a program to help student who are struggling in math or reading.

While these are ways to use technology in the classroom, these are not the ways that our students are learning outside of school. They are using technology to communicate, to create, and to explore. This is what we need to bring into the classroom. Case in point, my school went to one on one iPads this year. One of my students had the IPad for three days and came to school all excited because she created a podcast of herself doing the "Wacky News" using her vocabulary words.

This is the type of learning that we need to focus on with our students. Allowing them to use technology to enhance their learning and to integrate the technology into the curriculum.

Subun's picture

I totally agree with the comments here. Integration of technology is so important these days for education systems. If technology is already in the hands of our kids, it should definitely be integrated into our schooling systems. I found an article that further discusses the need for technology in classrooms and delves into the change of the role of educator in relation to technology. http://cooori.com/weblog/enjp/2014/06/13/when-will-technology-replace-te...

Justina's picture

I am a firm believer that technology should be an integral part of education. I am a Pre-K teacher in NC working in a classroom that is licensed as a NC Pre-K class. There are certain requirements we must follow to ensure we are teaching developmentally appropriate material to our students. I find it strange that we are frowned upon when we allow our students the opportunity to experiment with technology. One of the Pre-K classrooms at my school recently went through ECERS and the teacher received negative marks because she allowed the students to use the SmartBoard too long. She was informed that the students should only be allowed to use technology for 15 minutes for a week. I thought this was absurd. We live in a technology-driven world and failing to incorporate a substantial part of technology in our classroom is a disservice to our students. I would much rather receive negative markings than to fail to ensure my students are learning about and experimenting with technology.

iqbal's picture
IB Biology Teacher, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

I believe that technology is the only way to engage and interact with our students of 21st century. students spend hours and hours on their tabs and mobile phones. if we could integrate these as tools for teaching and learning in an effective way then definitely we would be able to get better results. but the big question is how these gadgets and devises can be used to deliver curriculum. as in one of the comments above it is mentioned that there should be a person in school who should give direction to the teachers and students about the proper and authentic use of tech tools.

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