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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
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Student looking through a camera with his teacher looking on.
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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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.

Paul Swanson's picture
Paul Swanson
MSHS Tech Coordinator at UNIS Hanoi

Many of these comments talk about the need for "a person in school who should give direction to the teachers and students about the proper and authentic use of tech tools." That's my current job at the United Nations International School of Hanoi; I'm the MSHS Tech Coordinator.

It's not quite it.

Imagine if, 100 years ago, we were talking about the need for specialists in the classrooms to give direction to teachers and students about using slates. The slate was and is a tool, just like an iPad or a computer. The point is not just to teach how to use tools properly (although that is a part of it). The point is to help teachers find news ways of fostering learning, both in and out of the classroom. Sometimes these innovations are about tech tools, but often they are more about pedagogy than technology.

As far as I can figure it, the median pedagogy in schools around the world is about 50 years behind the current state pedagogic possibility afforded by today's technologies. It's not too hard to show teachers the best apps or how to use new Google tools, but much harder to update habits from a lifetime.

TW Williamson's picture
TW Williamson
MYP and IB English Teacher

Effective technology integration develops the very important, but too often overlooked, learner-to-learner model. Teachers can embrace how students learn from and with each other through collaboration in authentic learning experiences that are right at their fingertips when lessons integrate technology. Teachers who search and research alongside their students embody the true spirit of intellectual inquiry - role models of lifelong learning. Teachers who collaborate with students show the cooperative, empowering, and rewarding side of discovery as partners, rather than directors.

Leslie's picture

Research shows that students preform well with classroom settings with and without technology. In South Korean classrooms students learn English with a life like robot and their test scores and student achievement is ranked higher than the United States. The additional technological distractions like cellphones and iPods are required to be left at the door, minimizing a possibility of cheating and distraction. Students can do very well without the introduction of technology into the classroom. Classrooms in Finland use chalk boards and overhead projectors to teach and in 2006 they were ranked 1st in science and math out of the 30 OECD countries. It is possible to teach a classroom without any technology and for the students to succeed.
With the technology that is accessible to students like smart phones and the Internet, it provides an additional form and possibility to cheat. A student could take a picture of his or her work and send it to another student. If a student did not know the answer to a question the student could simply look up the exact same question and get the answer online. Student's overall problem solving abilities are lower with these easy ways to get the answers. Some teachers do not want to see technology in the classroom because the student gets so much of that at home and everywhere else.
Online learning is a great advancement that resulted from technology in classrooms. Teachers can reach any length of distance as long as one has internet access. Working adults can get degrees on their own time. Teachers can post their lesson and students can go back over it to help with understanding. The internet and other learning programs can be an additional tutor for a student that is falling behind. The computer does not have a time limit where a teacher does. The student can go over something as many times as needed until he or she understands. E-books are also an effective way to get textbooks and learning material into the classroom. With a simple upgrade the newest form of the textbook can be shown instead of using millions of pages of paper to get a new classroom set of textbooks each year.

Christie's picture

I agree that technology in the classroom must be integrated throughout and not simply in the computer lab. There are several resources that are available for cross curricular and using them is the base of 21st century skills that our students need. Another person on these comments mentioned the date of this posting, 2008. I also was taken back by the date, it seems 2008 was so long ago and there are far more resources today than there were 7 years ago. I think no matter the project or type of skill/strategy you are implementing in the classroom there is a technology resource that can be found for it.

qaiserjehan's picture

I agree that making use of technology in classrooms should be increased rather than using as a single subject. Integration of technology is very important these days as it makes students understand much easily than previous studying techniques. We are living in a changing environment where people are making extensive use of technology and this technology should be implemented in classrooms as well. Technology is easily accessible and resources are available to use them in classroom and use it according to the situation.

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