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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 Staff
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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Deane's picture

I use my Smart Board as much as I possibly can. The students love it, and it is a great way to engage them. The only reason I have one this year is because I am teaching one section of science. Our school also allows the students to borrow Kindles from the library. While I acknowledge that the use of technology in the curriculum is necessary, it is also not possible in all situations. The Declaration of Independence states, "All men are created equal." This is not true of all schools. This is not even true among schools within the same district. Our district can't even get equity within the science lab equipment offered for student use. Technology-enhanced instruction will reach some, not all. It will actually widen the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots". Cash-strapped schools that have some technology available are reluctant to invest the money in proper teacher training to ensure efficient use of equipment. Technology in the classroom must be made available to all students.

Jill Nobles's picture

If you're worried about educators not being able to keep up with the shifts in technology and software, you should consider that I myself, somewhat of a resource for less technical people, also cannot keep up with the shifts and changes.

We are in the middle of a drastic technological revolution. We are experiencing change on a level that really is beyond compare. We need to embrace technology and not cower from it. If we hide from it, we might as well be chained to a cave wall, watching shadows & believing only what we see, (Plato would attest to that).

Educators cannot educate if they themselves are not educated.

This DOES NOT mean that I think books should be replaced by computers. Quite the contrary, I feel books and other means of education are absolutely neccessary. There is a delicate balance that should be teetered on according to the strengths and interests of the particular student or group of students. You wouldn't teach a digital photography class without knowing how to use a digital camera, or a computer class without understanding the computer. The relevance of the equipment, media, software and techniques are all dependant on the subject matter, and these items must be considered as equals to other teaching supplies, such as books.

Chris Rowland's picture

Technology integration into the classroom is extremely important in the world we live in today. There is no going back to a slower, less tech time, although sometimes I wish it was a bit slower. It is difficult to keep up with the fast pace of things computer/tech wise. Workshops and experts in the area of tech would be high advantageous to schools today. I think many teachers are in over their heads when it comes to technology.

Jennifer Hughes's picture

As a younger teacher, I have seen many veteran teachers shy away from technology because they are afraid of "breaking" something or "stuck" in their ways and afraid of changing what they have been teaching for 30 years. It is no doubt that technology has so many benefits for our students. Research has told us time and time again all of the benefits. We can feed these benefits to our reluctant teachers, but how do we get them to really digest it and use technology to its fullest extent? If the teachers are not willing, how do we get them on board? Even with all of the in-services and tutorials, one can not learn it in a day. With the rapid change of technology, it is very difficult to stay on par with the times.
I think that it starts at the top. If the superintendent/principal/department chair all put an emphasis on technology and using it in the classroom, teachers will eventually join the bandwagon. It is not just about buying and supplying the tools; it is about routinely following up with teachers to make sure the tools are being used.

Teacher's picture

I agree that technology should be seamlessly integrated within current curriculum. The technology should feel effortless, not overly planned. I think many teachers would like to make this philosophy a reality in their classrooms or their school buildings; yet limitations set by district filters, hesitant administration, and out of date technology in the building limit what can be done daily in the classroom.

Ksword's picture

I agree...the tech issues at my school are heavy filtering and lack of funding to continue with innovative tech ideas for our district. There is always someone with a grand idea, but after we get a taste of the tech, the the rug is pulled out from under us because there is no money to support it...quite the let down. It makes one deliberately NOT want to try new things because they may or may not last. Oh, how I would love to have the tech to fully integrate into my curriculum!

Thomas Jones's picture

One of the comments spoke of industry and the use of best practices. I agree that schools need to use best practices in education. One of the barriers is the investment needed to have the technology that would allow best practices. The cost of equipping a school with 30 classroom, 10 computers each, plus the desired or needed programs to allow student learning is much more than equipping a small business with five computers plus software. The school system may have more resources than a small business, but they also have greater costs - what schools have been asked to do is much broader than most businesses. In this economy, the investment in education seems to be going down rather than up. Recent reports speak of the jobs that are available - available in industries that need highly trained personnel. Where will those highly trained personnel come from?

Tiffany Collins's picture

Integrating technology into the classroom is a must for teachers to keep up with the new generation of learners. With today's learner, they are more technology savy, so to incorporate that into the lesson will keep them engaged.

Bryon Demerson's picture

Integrating technology in the classroom is so important! We must retire the old ways of using the chalk board to educate our future leaders. Instead, we must actively engage the students in the learning process.

Integrating technology into the classroom is a great way to accomplish that goal. Giving the students an opportunity to have a hands-on experience with the millions of technological resources will improve the productivity of the classroom as a whole. Students are engaged with technology almost every other minute of their day, so it only makes sense to use what they know (technology) to help them to grasp important concepts they will need to be effective in the future.

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