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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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Jennifer Garmon's picture

I agree with this article and this pedagogy of how important technology is in education. As a middle school ELA teacher, technology has provided me with the opportunity to present authentic audience for their writing. This has helped with student engagement and excitement in their writing.

Another advantage to using technology is the efficiency to differentiate material for all students to learn. An example, I have students send me different writing pieces to me through email. I will read their response and respond to items that I see they need to work. So, the next time I will assess to see if they have worked on the problem. This gives me the opportunity to work with students individually to work on their writing, and not have a class full of other students sitting around and waiting.

The only problem I have encounter with technology is the misuse or the ability to not access the internet. I have a blog for my classroom. Students will post information on the blog that is not important for that class (turning it into a social site). I have talked to the students about this and how it takes away from the importance of the blog. But, they still seem to use the blog not always the appropriate way. How can I help correct this problem?

Also, I work in a title one school, and not all my students have access to a computer. How can I ensure they are getting the same opportunities as a student with a computer? I allow these students to come to my class during homeroom, but that doesn't always give them ample time. What is a way that has worked to ensure these students get the same opportunities?

Jennifer Garmon's picture

I agree with this article and this pedagogy of how important technology is in education. As a middle school ELA teacher, technology has provided me with the opportunity to present authentic audience for their writing. This has helped with student engagement and excitement in their writing.

Another advantage to using technology is the efficiency to differentiate material for all students to learn. An example, I have students send me different writing pieces to me through email. I will read their response and respond to items that I see they need to work. So, the next time I will assess to see if they have worked on the problem. This gives me the opportunity to work with students individually to work on their writing, and not have a class full of other students sitting around and waiting.

The only problem I have encounter with technology is the misuse or the ability to not access the internet. I have a blog for my classroom. Students will post information on the blog that is not important for that class (turning it into a social site). I have talked to the students about this and how it takes away from the importance of the blog. But, they still seem to use the blog not always the appropriate way. How can I help correct this problem?

Also, I work in a title one school, and not all my students have access to a computer. How can I ensure they are getting the same opportunities as a student with a computer? I allow these students to come to my class during homeroom, but that doesn't always give them ample time. What is a way that has worked to ensure these students get the same opportunities?

James McLain's picture
James McLain
I produce free Algebra tutorials on YouTube, and I sell ed. Tech.

But the best lesson that a student can learn about technology is how to create it. I can't believe that it took two years and a specialized college to really teach me how a television works. Now, I can't imagine going through life without that knowledge and countless other techie things that I know. How many hours do these kids spend sitting in front of a TV? How many hours do you spend? Why not bring in an old TV one day, open it up and let them see what's inside? Don't touch, there can be dangerously charged capacitors! If you can, explain to them what the parts are, and what they do. If you can't have them get on the Internet and see if the whole class can figure it out together. Here's a few hints: It involves scan lines, glowing phosphors, radio waves, and precise control of magnetic fields.

Maria Villarreal's picture
Maria Villarreal
Teacher Candidate at the University of Houston-Downtown

You asked about a teacher prep program: Yes, the University of Houston-Downtown's College of Public Service has an Urban Education Department.
Is rated as one of the top two teacher prep programs in Texas. Degree program has a required course on integrating technology into the curriculum.

http://www.uhd.edu/academic/colleges/publicservice/urbaned/index.html
http://www.uhd.edu/academic/colleges/publicservice/

Brent Fullerton's picture
Brent Fullerton
International Educator currently working in Borneo

The article mentioned: "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."

Wow! I couldn't agree more to this statement. After enrolling in a program to earn a certificate for tech integration (COETAIL Program), I have learned so much about weaving tech skills and tools within my instruction. The coolest part for me has been watching my students thoroughly enjoy coming to my class each day. They seem more interested in their learning because there is always some form of technology applied to the traditional reading and writing lessons. My relationship with my students has been very positive. Most of what I am learning in the tech certificate program is being directly applied to my classroom. Kids see me learning something new all the time, and I think they truly dig it.

Cynthia's picture

I'm in my first year of Early Development Education. I ran across this site from researching about technology in teaching. I found this video to be very helpful, especially when they use the different methods of classroom management. Thanks

Nathan Walker's picture
Nathan Walker
Sixth grade humanities teacher

I think the key phrase on this article comes at the end of the second paragraph when they write "Effective technology integration is achieved when the use of technology is routine and transparent and when technology supports curricular goals." The most important part being "...when technology supports curricular goals." It seems all to often that people think that as long as the students are using some form of technology in the classroom, that now it is an integrated classroom. If people are not thinking about how the technology is enhancing the learning than it is lost instructional time.

Mary Fish's picture
Mary Fish
Grade 5/6 English teacher at an international school in Tokyo

Great article and video. I especially liked the quote:

"Integrating technology into classroom instruction means more than teaching basic computer skills and software programs in a separate computer class.....Effective technology integration is achieved when the use of technology is routine and transparent and when technology supports curricular goals."

I couldn't agree more with the above statement. Effective technology integration is when the use of technology in the classroom is seamlessly integrated with real-life learning. When technological devices exist as just one of the many tools in the classroom to enhance learning, I believe you have achieved technological integration. The technology does not drive the curriculum, but enhances it to provide an improved learning environment. Strong curriculum is key. Each teacher in the video had clear learning objectives and was utilizing technology to achieve them.

I think the role of the educational technology coordinator is paramount to success. In the video, the educational technology coordinator was there supporting the teachers and coordinating the integration. Without a clear vision, it is very hard to achieve true technological integration.

Great job Harrison Central High School. You are truly inspirational!

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.

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