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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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Leanne Anderson's picture
Leanne Anderson
General Ed

Integrating technology into classroom instruction: "Is It A Cure All?" by Leanne Anderson

Technology has definitely left its mark touching almost every part of our lives, and has continues to grow with great advances. The educational forefront has been trying to harness its potential as the cure-all for some of the many gaps and failures that has been plaguing its efforts. Despite the many praises that have been given to technology, some schools are still clinging on to the traditional ways, while others are hopping on this fast tract to integrating technology into classroom learning.
Technology if used properly will help students acquire the skills needed to survive in this global effect that technology is quickly enhancing and changing with each new gadget or idea. In this complex world we have to equip our children well enough to compete globally; they will either stay afloat or drown.
Spending has increased tremendously in the efforts to get technology in the classrooms, however, the many barriers and issues that many paralyze its success are being overlooked. Having the tools and not knowing how to use it defeats the purpose. Teachers having the technology in the classroom is not all.

My Conclusion on the issue based on a small research of 25 elementary aged students from an after-school setting focus group, and 10 teachers from various schools:
As strides are continuously being made to infuse technology into classrooms, the access to computer based technology increases, more in some areas than others. Survey collected from 25 students and 10 teachers from the Brooklyn districts were analyzed to examine the extent to which technology was used in the classroom, how much professional development teachers received towards the instructional process, how teachers felt about the change, and students perceptions on the matter.
into schools and into the instructional process.

The research shows evidence that teachers generally use technology more for preparation and communication than for teaching the lesson itself. In addition, almost 50% of the teachers said that they used it for assigning learning activities .

I found that out of the 10 teachers, 6 were relatively new to the job/career and relied heavily on technology. They stated that their recent training in grade school contributed to their heavy use/reliance on technology to teach the lessons, and to find interesting and engaging activities for their students. "We couldn't imagine teaching without technology," was a common response among those 6 teachers. The remaining 4 teachers didn't really mind using or not using technology. Out of the remaining 4 teachers, half mentioned that they preferred the traditional way. They stressed that it was way too much work to get the lessons prepared when using technology. One common response when asked for challenges faced using technology in the classroom was linked to time management and keeping the students focused and on task.

100% of the teachers also shared their concerns for professional development for integrating technology into their curriculum and to actually know how to use the technology itself. They were concerned that not enough resources is being allocated for these reasons, and for that many of their colleagues don't even attempt to use it or are afraid to use it.
The students responses seem to echo each other. Most of the students enjoyed using technology, however they stated that sometimes "it is a drag" using any form of technology in the classroom because some teachers don't know what they are doing. Other students expressed that although they love using technology especially the computer, sometimes it is hard to stay focused when other students are deviating form assignment given, and surfing the internet.
I must admit that the students were very aware of the endless possibilities that technology provides both in the classroom and in life. They expressed the importance of knowing how to use the technology, and being able to use it not only in a school setting but also at home or for personal reasons.

Diana Dragonetti's picture
Diana Dragonetti
5/6 Humanities teacher from Sumatra

I really enjoyed many statements from this article; I am going to share it with my fellow teachers. I noticed that the original publication date was in 2008. It's interesting that it is still so relevant, and that people are still commenting on it.

At my school, we are working on better implementing a program called Real Spelling. The Middle school students and teachers, myself included, struggle with teaching and learning the concepts. A way that we have tried to alleviate some of the anxiety about it is to have an expert lead lessons on Skype. It has really helped, and I've noticed that all of us are so much more interested in Real Spelling now. When I read this sentence from the article: "The Web connects students to experts in the real world and provides numerous opportunities for expressing understanding through images, sound, and text." Our work with Pete Bowers came immediately to mind.

I keep trying to think of other experts we can collaborate with via Skype. Next I am hoping to get our students connected with Playing for Change. One of our students came across their website while we were working on Millennium Development Goals and Peace Day.

Debbie Carchidi's picture
Debbie Carchidi
HIgh School History Teacher

Technology is pervasive in all we do and with each new technology it has become easier to carry around with us the power of the internet. No matter where you are today, the classroom, airport, or car you have access to 24 hours of news, events and the ability to search the internet when questions arise. The internet, with Twitter, Skype, Facebook, and other sites have brought about the overthrow of governments, especially in the Middle East with the Arab Spring, economic changes, and changes in the way many of us look at the world. Classrooms need to be updated to handle the newest technologies. Rumors in the field of education have us looking at a future where each student and teacher will have a tablet that can connect us to the clouds where we can all learn by using wikis, blogs, web quests, etc.
A classroom in the clouds, where teachers, students, administrators, and parents will have access to assignments, grades and the ability to collaborate on materials being taught is the future of education. Teachers will use the multitude of materials at their fingers to make their students collaborate, meet the needs of diverse students, and bring the ability to their students to gather, analyze, and synthesis all of the information they are presented.
However, the American people need to "sold" on the new technologies being in the classroom. The cost of upgrading, repairing and training will fall on the taxpayer. The taxpayer needs to be educated on how much more we can do in the classroom with their children if given the opportunity to develop 21st century classrooms in a 20th century school setting. After all, as Max Leon Forman said "Education seems to be in America the only commodity of which the customer tries to get as little as he can for his money." Max Leon Forman (1909-1990) Jewish-American writer.

yasmin crutchfield's picture

This article was very helpful in showing the practical uses of technology in the classroom. Other schools should make their learning with technology personal like in the video so more students are interested and get involved.

Kelsey Wilks's picture

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."

I couldn't agree more with this statement! Last year as I taught first grade, even just the slightest bit of technology used in a lesson increased student interest and involvement. Whether it be listening to stories online, or reading with the LeapFrog books, or listening to a book on cd, the students seemed to be far more engaged and enthused about their task. This year, I am teaching third grade and this is the first year we have SmartBoards in every class. The students love it and love to learn new things and even watch as I use it for instruction. Their level of engagement definitely increases compared to using a whiteboard or chart paper during instruction. However, though I can see a difference in these simple uses of technology in the classroom, I can only imagine how high the level of engagement and interest would be among students if we were given the opportunity to do more projects or lessons with more advance technology. With a classroom of 26 students and only one computer, it is very hard to incoporate a lot of technology into lessons as much as I would like as well as the students. The things you could do with technology that also supports curricular goals are very engaging and make for a much more enjoyable and higher-level learning environment.

Laura Randolph's picture

From a newly declared education major's point of view this article lays some foundational arguments and ideas for the implementation of technology into curriculums. Technology will always come with the need for upgrades, costs, and possible unforeseeable problems, however, technology will aid students of all ages and the benefits of implemented technology will outweigh the costs. Not every student learns the same way, and technology will give teachers and other administrators more possibilities to reach their target audience. In a few years, I will be entering the workforce, and I look forward to new possibilities technology offers.

Alisha Mahnken's picture
Alisha Mahnken
Student studying to become a high school math teacher.

This article showed me that truly integrating technology in all classes is possible and once it is achieved it is well worth the efforts to integrate the technology. At my high school, my junior year every student got an hp mini to use for school purposes. But even though we had access to new technology we rarely used it in most of my classes, which I found disappointing. I would have liked to have had more experience using new technologies than just writing papers. So to know that is possible to use the technology we have today in all aspects of education gives me hope that one day we will achieve it.

Sara Borneman's picture

This article is very interesting as well and makes me appreciate the technology around us. I have never liked using technology in school because all the equipment I have been give to use is very out dated and at times hard for me to use. And if I become a teacher I am not sure how tech savoy I will be because of my frustration with out dated technology in schools.

Monica V's picture

After watching the video and reading the article it's exciting to hear how more and more school are integrating technology into more subjects other than just a computer class. I also believe that if more school districts continue to integrate technology they will see in increase of excitement in the students towards school and learning. When I was in high school I know that when we got the opportunity to use technology everyone automatically became more excited about the assignment. I hope that in these years coming technology continues to have the same positive impact on students and schools as it does now, because from what this article and video show is that it's only helping students succeed and reach their full potential.

Carly Wingert's picture

I feel that this article directly addresses the current integration of technology into the classroom from a refreshingly positive perspective. The author mentions how widespread technology has become, forcing me to note that this acquiescence to the technological age is even more profound in young children. I often see small kids playing with iPhones and iPads, which leads me to believe that since they are learning through technology through their youngest years, technology is a suitable learning method for kids as they grow older. It offers auditory information, graphics, as well as words. These various methods help teachers to have more options to reach to more students. Like the article states, technology seems like a fantastic resource to work into everyday lessons.

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