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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

Comments (379)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Diane Cote's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This short but very informative article has me thinking and confirming why integrating technology in the classroom is so important. As a reading specialist working with students who have difficulty acquiring the process of reading efficiently, I know that it is critical that we find ways to help them learn to read and acquire reading skills in a way that they will enjoy. Using computer software such as ESSENTIAL SKILLS and LEXIA, I have proven results of how young students are able to improve reading skills in a "fun" way. The technology offers them a way to practice these skills in a non-threatening way and progres is monitored. This type of technology has the key components of actively engaging them, getting quick feedback and connecting them to real experts. This particular type of focus however does not encourage group participation. I have seen students whose desire is to interact solely with the computer but it's my job to be sure that the "social" learning also occurs. I see kids today who have great difficulty playing games with other students because experiences in this area seem to be more limited than in t he past. More than anything, I know that technology is the children's world and it is probably one of the best tools that teachers have to differentiate instruction to meet their needs.

abourgoin's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Since reading and hearing Daniel Pink speak last year at our school district convocation, i have been thinking a lot about the integration of technology and how it might apply to what and how I teach. As an art teacher, my meager and tentative attempts hve brought students to a new level of interest and engagement. Although I believe there is no substitute for the hands on experience that working with art materials such as clay, paint, and papier mache can provide, I think integrating technology will provide many new and exciting career opportunities for students. It is also an eciting and practical way to store assessment data and to allow students to engage in assessing their own work; sometimes by receiving direct feedback from a practicing artist. I am constntly amazed by the simple digital camera and how it has made the art of photography so accessible to young children. they can learn by trial and error and get instant results. This only barely scratches the surface. We have to find a way to engage the minds of the future. Sitting passively taking notes with a pencil does not cut it anymore!

Mary Turner's picture

We should teach the new technology to our young students because when they get older and become adults they will need to know how to use the new technology in their everyday lives!!

Jennifer Lynn's picture

Discomfort, although unsettling, should be felt more frequently in the classroom. As humans, we are imperfect. Yet, as teachers, we are supposed to be perfect and have all the information. Not only is this a harmful ideal for us, it harms our students as well. Students should not have to always look to someone else to find the answer. They should be equipped with the skills to problem solve and find information with the resources available to them. At this point in time, technology is their main resource. We cannot continue to say that technology is irrelevant to them, only because WE are uncomfortable with it. This discomfort, this disequilibrium, is what students feel every day as they learn. We are learning alongside them; there is no shame in admitting that. Not integrating technology is the shame. As teachers, we need to remember that it is about the students, and not ourselves.

Brad Flickinger's picture
Brad Flickinger
Elementary Tech Teacher, Tech Integration Specialist

Integrating technology is really about teaching 21st Century Skills. We cannot chase the tail of specific hardware and software, we'll never catch up, but if we focus on the skills then we have a chance.

http://www.schooltechnology.org

TeachTech_K8's picture
TeachTech_K8
Elementary Technology Teacher (K - 8)

Integrating technology across the core academic curriculum is crucial to student's learning beginning in kindergarten. In order for technology to be fully integrated in a students daily lesson, the teachers within the classrooms must find it to be a valuable tool. Appropriate professional development programs should be offered to teachers so that they feel comfortable creating and implementing technology into their specific lessons. Technology is fun and both teachers and students need to enjoy it together with the learning environment. Technology can make a classroom come alive.

Natalie Henderson-Alton's picture
Natalie Henderson-Alton
Media Art Teacher, Los Angeles

I think a lot of times the technology is intimidating to "integrate" for teachers because of the lack of support for it. As the associated video about Harrison HS shows, it works GREAT when there is money for multiple tools, small class sizes, teacher trainings, and ESPECIALLY a Technology Coordinator (IT on campus).

As a Media Art teacher, I see the positive results of integration daily. However, working in an under-supported school district, I also see the pains.

I have 40 students per class and 40 computers, but when one (or more) is down, the students need alternative "pen and paper" activities. I have spent hours on the phone with computer repair people, only to be redirected. Our Internet is spotty at best, so online lessons are often derailed. If a little student hand pushes into the locked cabinet to unplug something, I have to wait for days to get the facilities manager to come unlock it for me to plug it back in. Hot items like cameras have to be managed so closely, as to avoid stealing, they add an extra 15 minutes to set-up and clean-up.

The technology is not simply replacing something else, but adding unique technology problems to my already heavy traditional load (if only we had a Tech Coordinator). I wish my classrooms looked and ran like those at Harrison HS, but the realities are a bit more cumbersome. However, I think as technologies become more commonplace in the classrooms, so will the supports and many of these "bugs" can be worked out. We are pioneers right now--or guinea pigs.

Yolanda E. Rodriguez's picture

Being a mom of six technology born children, I've seen from the first child to the last, how technology has given my children a richer and wider vision when this one is wisely integrated into the teaching-learning experience particularly at it is use at home to complete assignments. However, I am aware of the wrong use of it. Therefore, I firmly support the idea that technology is to enhance teaching making it more engaging and fun. But, I hope it will never replace an effective teacher unless technology becomes "perfect" (not saying that teachers are perfect) but meaning it will never break or that the world decides for "No Teachers" Heavens Forbid! Then I won't have a job... (just kidding! about my future job)
Well, here I am as an older person who came back to school to become a teacher. I understand how and why some teachers that have longer experience in the profession who started their teaching without technology feel. Sometimes I myself feel overwhelmed but willing to learn for my future students, I also understand that time is precious and teachers have so many things to do, and on top learn technology? Oh! Please...
But, you know what? I do not know how I'm going to accomplish all that is required from me as an old teacher teaching these bunch of "techno-kids" unless I learn to USE technology to simplify my office management job, engage these modern children into learning the past principles that rule the world unless I do it using their own real life tools that are familiar to them, technology. It is to me a bit challenging, but if we want them prepared to succeed in real life, we need to embrace technology as a tool to be used as a mean to a purpose. Some of those children might not have the opportunity to appreciate the far away world in real life, why not bringing the world to them?
When technology becomes a teacher's servant, the students have more chances to succeed in today's world. Because research states that students are actively engaged, participate in groups, it exist frequent interaction and feedback, and connects them to real-world experts but, up to these point technology cannot replace an effective teacher. I believe effective teachers embrace change and master it!

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