Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are Many | Edutopia
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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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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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Melissa Enderle's picture

It's now been six years since this article was published. I would hope by now that by now, there is little debate on if or why technology should be an integral part of the classroom. Technology has changed the way kids learn (particularly outside the classroom) and interact. As an art teacher and practicing artist, I don't believe that technology can fully replicate or replace the traditional art media experience or product, but technology has an important role in art. Through technology, we now have the ability to access, investigate, and even manipulate art resources from even the remotest areas of the world - many times at no or low cost. Just-in-time resources enable differentiation and help students become active inquirers, determining what they want to know and through support, find and evaluate the results. Art creation through technology can at times be more efficient, allow for deeper exploration and experimentation, and allow for products not possible with more traditional tools. Technology is now an essential tool of which art makers need to gain fluency if they want to succeed in today's world.

Sibila Cherry's picture
Sibila Cherry
Kindergarten Teacher

Over the past few years it has become obvious that textbooks have become just a few of many OTHER components that contribute to student learning and understanding of the curriculum. In this visually oriented age better engagement comes from Internet sights, videos and use of Web 2.0 tools- and that's what we are aiming for- active engagement! Teachers need to redefine their practices and to review their programs, being mindful of the new tools that are available in order for meaningful student learning to happen. The more you submerge yourself and your students in technology- even if you are new at using the tools-the more of a chance you will have to find current answers to questions that you might have and to find ways to use technology effectively. It is important for teachers to understand that rebuilding a new and effective program will take time and failure is part of experimenting and 'messing around' with technology, so that they can find the right balance. Imagine the learning- a classroom that is connected to a world audience and experts that could be found anywhere in the world to help with the learning, through the use of technology. How amazing is that?

Juliana Garcia's picture
Juliana Garcia
1st grade teacher- Luanda, Angola

I agree with Melissa Enderle when she says "It's now been six years since this article was published. I would hope by now that by now, there is little debate on if or why technology should be an integral part of the classroom." I believe however that we should now be asking "how can we integrate technology in a meaningful and purposeful way?" I struggle with this all the time. It's hard to not get carried away by all the new -apps, tools, hardware- options. Does anyone else struggle with the same thing?

Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

[quote]It's hard to not get carried away by all the new -apps, tools, hardware- options. Does anyone else struggle with the same thing?[/quote]
Great question, Juliana! I think these things will go in waves to some degree, and that's ok within reason.

When you first get a new piece of technology, it's hard to NOT want to try out everything that's possible and see what's working and what isn't, or at least it is for me! The first year we got iPads in our school, we ended up with so many apps we ran out of space! Over time, we were able to take a step back and really evaluate what we wanted out of the device and how to best make that work.

I think your question about how to integrate in a meaningful and purposeful way is really the essential one that will help you sort out when you've gone too far. Keep asking the question periodically and continuously reevaluate what you're doing and how it best benefits students.

JennyZ's picture
middle schoool international teacher

This is @Sammi S. It is wonderful you are thinking about ways to incorporate technology into your lessons as a teacher in training. The thought process makes lessons come alive - especially in music and the arts.
It is amazing that the article was written six years ago - my how far we have come. I don't remember ever teaching without technology integrated into lessons - or kids having one-to-one access to machines. I have been fortunate in having a been part of one-to-one laptop programs for the past 8 years. It is an incredible journey of learning.

angel's picture

This was a very good explanation on why technology is a good integration. Everything in this article tells you enough Information into why it should be propounded into the classroom, and it as in the technology. We can create knowledge, express and communicate ideas, and produce something new in endless ways. There seems to be no limitation to enjoy our lifelong learning journey. Because of the innumerable possibilities of the integration of technology in our life, there will be always something which lets us being passionate and engaged. The technology is playing a big role in our live and we need to take it more serious.

donovanhall's picture
PYP ICT Teacher

Couldn't agree more with many aspects of this article and especially Melissa's reply about how tech should be an integral competent of the classroom.

In saying this, we need to remember the many variables that come with tech integration which restrict and/or inhibit tech integration from occurring!

Being an international teacher in Africa for the last 6 years I have observed many restricting factors, from management decisions, resourcing, obtaining computers, to International sanctions. For me, problem solving and leaning on my PLN have been vital in helping me overcome such obstacles to find work arounds and inspire me to push harder.

Like our students, we too vary in competence and confidence when using technology. This is where the SAMR model has proven to be a very useful resource as it provides us with a supportive framework for integration which reflect where we are currently at.

Misty's picture
Middle/High school Literature teacher, Nashville, TN

I sometimes feel like a kid in a candy store when it comes to technology in my classroom. I have a sugar craving and I want it ALL! I concur with all that the article said about integrating technology - I don't believe there is an issue about whether it is important or not. This current "information generation" is all about devices, gadgets and gizmos and as teachers we are well aware that they learn better in this environment. My problem comes with WHAT to choose. It is not like there is one app or program that is best to teach reading comprehension, there are hundreds, literally! I need to figure out balance in this sugar clad, tech savy generation!

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.

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