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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

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.

VIDEO: An Introduction to Technology Integration

Running Time: 5 min.

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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Ms. Greer's picture
Ms. Greer
Technology Integrator Specialist for 1-12 Boarding School in Philadelphia

I can't help but notice that there are people who are registered with Edutopia, who are reading and commenting on this online article, who are responding to colleagues' and peers' comments, and who still are expressing hesitance about integrating technology into a classroom. For some reason, that seems funny.

If, as a teacher, I were to try and stay current on best teaching practices, current educational research, trends in education, changes to state standards, etc... by sitting in a room and waiting for someone to lecture me on the information, or by reading a book on each topic listed, I'd be in serious trouble. My ability to regularly locate meaningful information, to engage in a dialogue about that information with a diverse group, and to disseminate it to my colleagues and peers is what allows me to be successful at my trade. Why would I try to limit my students from access to information and technological resources?

My ability to navigate technology and use technology has always been an asset, never has it worked against me. Going all the way back to high school in the 1980's, my ability to navigate software applications and configure small networks has been a skill set that has constantly been in demand. People have asked for help as long as I can remember. No one has ever said, "Oh that girl is getting too good at using those dang computers. We'd better slow her down."

I can't help but notice that some of the resistance to integrating technology in school is fear-based on the part of teachers, and rightfully so in some ways. Students often know more about the technologies than we do and regardless of whether we integrate technology into the classroom or not, they will learn to use it. The big questions are: Who will guide their ethical decision making while they become masters of the technology? Who will help them learn to question which tools help society and which ones hurt society? Who will help them identify resources that allow them to become experts in areas in which they are passionate? Who will encourage them to maintain healthy boundaries in their online communities? Who will encourage them to develop a balance between their real world and their virtual world? Who will lead them with inquiry to developing effective problem-solving skills? Who will help them learn to collaborate with peers from diverse cultures? Isn't that us? Isn't that what we need to do as educators? Aren't we responsible for helping young people become critically thinking citizens?

Even as tech savvy as I am, I know I that I barely even scratch the surface when it comes to understanding existing technologies. There are far too many hardware technologies, Web 2.0 tools, Internet resources, virtual environments, etc... to keep up with. The kids will leave me in the dust shortly. I'm fine with that. They can continue to teach me about all the cool advances in the technologies and I'll keep teaching them by asking questions to challenge their opinions and beliefs, by encouraging them to consider the consequences of their actions, by making sure that they continue to understand the value of proficiency in reading and writing, by putting math and science into a context that is meaningful, and by valuing and respecting them as individuals. That's what I watched my mentor do years ago... (and she knew a whole lotta nuthin' about computers). The kids taught her and she taught them and everyone was learning. :)

Ms. Greer's picture
Ms. Greer
Technology Integrator Specialist for 1-12 Boarding School in Philadelphia

I can't help but notice that there are people who are registered with Edutopia, who are reading and commenting on this online article, who are responding to colleagues' and peers' comments, and who still are expressing hesitance about integrating technology into a classroom. For some reason, that seems funny.

If, as a teacher, I were to try and stay current on best teaching practices, current educational research, trends in education, changes to state standards, etc... by sitting in a room and waiting for someone to lecture me on the information, or by reading a book on each topic listed, I'd be in serious trouble. My ability to regularly locate meaningful information, to engage in a dialogue about that information with a diverse group, and to disseminate it to my colleagues and peers is what allows me to be successful at my trade. Why would I try to limit my students from access to information and technological resources?

My ability to navigate technology and use technology has always been an asset, never has it worked against me. Going all the way back to high school in the 1980's, my ability to navigate software applications and configure small networks has been a skill set that has constantly been in demand. People have asked for help as long as I can remember. No one has ever said, "Oh that girl is getting too good at using those dang computers. We'd better slow her down."

I can't help but notice that some of the resistance to integrating technology in school is fear-based on the part of teachers, and rightfully so in some ways. Students often know more about the technologies than we do and regardless of whether we integrate technology into the classroom or not, they will learn to use it. The big questions are: Who will guide their ethical decision making while they become masters of the technology? Who will help them learn to question which tools help society and which ones hurt society? Who will help them identify resources that allow them to become experts in areas in which they are passionate? Who will encourage them to maintain healthy boundaries in their online communities? Who will encourage them to develop a balance between their real world and their virtual world? Who will lead them with inquiry to developing effective problem-solving skills? Who will help them learn to collaborate with peers from diverse cultures? Isn't that us? Isn't that what we need to do as educators? Aren't we responsible for helping young people become critically thinking citizens?

Even as tech savvy as I am, I know I that I barely even scratch the surface when it comes to understanding existing technologies. There are far too many hardware technologies, Web 2.0 tools, Internet resources, virtual environments, etc... to keep up with. The kids will leave me in the dust shortly. I'm fine with that. They can continue to teach me about all the cool advances in the technologies and I'll keep teaching them by asking questions to challenge their opinions and beliefs, by encouraging them to consider the consequences of their actions, by making sure that they continue to understand the value of proficiency in reading and writing, by putting math and science into a context that is meaningful, and by valuing and respecting them as individuals. That's what I watched my mentor do years ago... (and she knew a whole lotta nuthin' about computers). The kids taught her and she taught them and everyone was learning. :)

Ms. Greer's picture
Ms. Greer
Technology Integrator Specialist for 1-12 Boarding School in Philadelphia

Who ever posted the link to the Johnny Lee TED talk... THANK YOU! That is way too cool. I can't wait to try.

Domenique McKillop's picture

Wow these students are very lucky to have all that technology at their finger tips. Being able to use those devices in real life situations gives these students motivation to learn. They are able to see their learning in action along with the ability to use their solutions to help them personally. The academic possibilities are endless, and they also build a community when they help each other figure out extra curricular activities.

Sean's picture

"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."

This says it all. Technology is not a stand-along subject, but rather a discipline that needs to be integrated into all subjects. Students today don't know a world without technology (computers, Internet, DS) and technology is a way to reach them and ehance thier learning. Harrison County Schools seems to be doing a fantastic job of integrating technology throughout the curriculum with great success. (It was a great seeing the clickers as I've used them as well.) I think we get into trouble when we teach anything in isolation, including technology. It was fantastic seeing the math teacher in the video using data from cheerleader practice to teach a concept. Students were obviously engaged as a result. I also saw a connection throughout the subjects: teachers were facilitators, giving students quite a bit of responsibility. Set your goals high and the students will reach them!

~Sean

Kathryn's picture

I want to be a student at Harrison Central High School! What a wonderful way to actually learn by doing and experience first hand how technology and the skills you are learning in high school can be applied in 'real' life.

"Technology also changes the way teachers teach, offering educators effective ways to reach different types of learners and assess student understanding through multiple means."

Using technology helps educators differentiate instruction and create engaging lessons that may have otherwise been unappealing to certain learning styles. I enjoyed seeing how the students in the math class were able to use something that was close to their heart in their math lesson (the cheerleader, the young man playing the xylophone, etc.). What a wonderful way to make the whole experience more meaningful. Technology integration into the classroom is important and definitely needs to happen as the article says, "across the curriculum." Nothing should be taught in isolation, so why should technology be any different. The students at Harrison CHS seemed to be using technology across the curriculum in practical ways. Now it is up to me (and us) to figure out how to incorporate technology in similar ways in both the secondary and elementary classrooms.

Kristin's picture

Sean, I totally agree with your comments, if we expect our students to utilize this technology regularly, they always rise to the occasion.

As our students move into a world that is surrounded by interactive and engaging technology, as educators, we must enhance our instruction to support and keep his/her interested in curriculum topics. In order to achieve this goal, technology should be integrated into learning but only when it makes instruction more effective. As stated above "Effective tech integration must happen across the curriculum in ways that research shows deepen and enhance the learning process." It is critical for educators to expose their students to resources and information that effectively incorporate technology to demonstrate the importance of technology educationally not purely for entertainment or communication which is the module in which they are most expose to technology. The most effective technological skill we can teach our students is how to be resourceful and use the technology to enhance whatever skill or topic you are trying to display. For example, students must still be able to read classic literature and discuss the main characters, topics and themes, but with the use of a discussion board or blog, they can now enhance their conversation by having real time feedback from teachers and students with different backgrounds and influences. These skills will allow our students to take any situation in the professional world and use technology to develop a deeper understanding and ultimately become more successful.

Doris Chevis's picture

I do agree with this article about technology coming into the classroom it will help embrace diverse learning styles and be an asset to future students. I do not agree with it hurting students ability to learn because students learn in many different ways, for example, some students are hands on learners, while others are good at listening. Students should be offered different ways to learn.

mikem01's picture

I appreciate the concern which is been rose. The things need to be
sorted out because it is about the individual but it can be with
everyone.
--------
Technology Details

mikem01's picture

I appreciate the concern which is been rose. The things need to be
sorted out because it is about the individual but it can be with
everyone.
--------

Technology Details

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