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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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M Dutterer's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I have recently started coursework in pursuit of my masters in Integrating Technology in the Classroom. Students today are well versed and reliant on technology. Cell phones, iPods with WiFi, text and instant messaging are a part of their everyday lives. With the addition of 3G phones and unlimited data plans, students will be tethered to the internet at all times. By taking an interest in the technology that my students already know, I am able to better engage and enhance their learning. In fact I believe that through offering distance learning at the high school level we can begin to tap into learning mechanisms that are currently being used with great success at the collegiate level. I have already made a conscious effort to integrate technology into my lessons, and this degree will enable me to strengthen my technology skills and innovate further in the classroom. Technology is no longer simply a way to supplement instruction but an integral part of everyday classroom teaching and student learning in order to better prepare students to compete and thrive in today's society. Technology is also essential for distance education. Distance education is no longer a key learning mechanism for college level students only, but also for those students on home hospital teaching or in alternative education environments.

Sarah Horner's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on technology intregration. I like the part where you said how you find out what your students already know technologically, and use that to enhance their learning. At the primary level, we hear constantly how important using a child's schema is to create authentic learning opportunities. It makes so much sense that using a child's prior knowledge of technology would be beneficial as well. I am sure it could provide the possibility of differentiating their instruction ad making their learning more meaningful. If we find out what they know, we, as teachers, could design more appropriate lessons for our individual students, that integrate technology. I know the students in my school have had minimal learning experiences with technology, and they are in great need, in order to be prepared for the world they are living in!

Justin's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am currently working towards a master's degree in integrating technology into the classroom, and have recently started utilizing technology in my lessons. Becoming proficient in new and emerging technologies is vital to the future of education. Technology is constantly changing and becoming more advanced; it is more prevalent in our every day lives and in the workplace. In today's society it seems that almost every student has a cell phone that is more powerful than a computer, an iPod capable of viewing live podcasts from the internet, and an understanding of various technologies that would puzzle most adults. As students become more technologically savvy it is crucial for educators to remain up to date with current trends, and use these technological tools to enhance instruction. I have started to utilize smart boards to improve the clarity of some of my lessons, and the difference in student proficiency is evident when comparing groups of students who received the same information with and without the use of technology. Although technology is an incredible tool to improve class instruction the biggest problem is that many school systems are slow to adjust to these new trends. In my school we have three computer labs available to all teachers who request their use. Each lab is equipped with a smart board, a computer for every student, and laser jet printers. Although these great resources are available for all teachers, very few actually take advantage of them; many teachers shy away from these new teaching methods because they are unfamiliar with how to use these resources for instruction. I think to truly maximize the potential of technology in education schools should offer workshops to being teachers who are unfamiliar with these methods. If the schools were able to offer more support to teachers then everyone would be able to use technology in their instruction, which would lead to increased knowledge retention and development of practical abilities in all students.

M Dutterer's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Thank you for your response. I find it interesting that you teach at the primary level while I teach secondary math yet we have similar views on technology in the classroom. I feel that it is my responsibility to teach my students not only the academic skills that they will need beyond high school, but also communication, organization, and technological skills that are required to be successful today's society. Today's high school graduates face an uncertain economy where jobs are scarce and only the best of the best will have the opportunities to succeed. I want to make the math concepts that I cover in class to be relevant to my students' lives. I am fortunate to teach in a technical high school with a plethora of opportunities to apply the mathematical concepts that we are learning in class to real-world situations. Many trade areas not traditionally reliant on technology have evolved to use technology on a daily basis. For example, my students that have auto mechanics as their trade area are able to hook my car up to a diagnostic computer and tell me why the check engine light comes on. These are high school students that have this technology in their school! The world is certainly changing in regard to technology and it is our responsibility as educators to do all that we can prepare our students for each new step - elementary for secondary, secondary for college/the workplace, etc.

linda silverberg's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Thanks for your article. I'm wondering, how do you survey student prior knowledge about technology and usage. Is there a survey you can share? I'm in a Mac lab after years of being away from the lab. I've kept up with a lot of tech practices while I was in 5-8 grades. I'm doing podcasts now using Reader's Theatre scripts, and the kids just LOVE preparing and recording their plays. (www.tekkidsps85q.podomatic.com) Please check out some of our Pcasts. I'm also blogging with 2-5 graders (www.tekkids85.ning.com) Thanks. I'm looking forward to reading more about your work. Linda

Jackie 's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I also teach a primary grade, kinder to be specific. Last year I taught first. I am looking for technology that would apply to my students that would give them a sound foundation that they can draw from when they get to the secondary grades. Please share any that you know of


leddy's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

The web is over flowing with resources, idea and even lesson plans...make searchL engines you best friend.


Christine Jacobsen's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I totally agree with all the posts regarding integrating technology in the classroom, however, the literacy factor has not been mentioned and is a crucial component of integrating this technology into the educational 21st century paradigm.

STudents and faculty are flying by the seat of their pants in searches, critical thinking relative to web information, and utilizing applications. We all need training in the literacy aspects of all these tools.
Christine Jacobsen
School Counselor

Gayle Reed's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I enjoy reading both the posting and the comments regarding technology in the classroom. I hear people constantly remarking how students these days use technology everyday and seamlessly integrate it into their lives and that we as teachers need to keep pace with them. I agree completely; However, I wonder if our job as teachers is not to show students all of the latest and greatest technologies, but rather to show students how to use these technologies while thinking about their content critically. I think rather than trying to keep up with the students in terms of all the technology available to them, we let them lead the way and as they teach us about the newest gadget or program, we ask thought provoking questions to help them realize the quality of what they are using.

Anthony Lord's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I teach at high school level in Ghana-Africa. needs help to teach my students well.

Sent web sites where I can get materials to teach. Also want to to know about universities where I can study on instructional media and technologies on campus base learning

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