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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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Hilaree Bowers's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

That is really neat that you have used technology to make your curriculum come alive to the students. I did not know that you can take tours of museums online! Thanks for sharing.

Hilaree Bowers's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I'm glad that there are some people in defense of the way we used to do things. I, too, see the enhancement gained from technology used, but I can see how becoming reliant on technology can be bad. Not only is it extremely expensive, but students are no longer able to navigate a library or even a textbook many times! I'm glad you have shared the ways in which technology has been useful to you in your classroom, and I agree that when we use technology, it needs to be done in a manner to most efficiently reach the students, and not be arbitrary.

Kellen's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am an elementary teacher in KY. I was recently given a smartboard as well a teacher resource account from Whizz Education for my classroom. The integration of these two components to my classroom has helped me make tremendous headway with kids who in the past have been "un-reachable" with the standard instruction. These resources help math come alive for the students and it is so much fun to teach!! We put interactive examples of topics we are trying to teach on the smartboard and the kids are pratically jumping out of their seats to particpate!

Technology is great when you can effectively integrate the componenets, I have seen too many white boards being used as glorified projector screens!

Kate's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I teach 1st grade in CA. Whizz Education, www.whizz.com (its not a great website, but the product is great) has a wonderful program for K-8 math instruction. It is my understanding that whizz was one of the first program to receive a smartboard accredidation - I am not 100% sure though. You can choose the topic you are covering that day and put up an interactive active/lesson for the kids to do. It allows the kids to particpate in math in ways very different to what we are used to. It has animation, voice-over and if kids get an answer wrong, it helps guide them to the correct answer, and doesn't just say - try again. Plus, it is fun to teach!

I also use it at home with my daughter!

Sheila Hall's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi, I'm an IT Specialist for VSU Educational Technology Centers (ETC) in Georgia. In reading some of the posts below, many of the teachers from GA speak of the grants that their regional ETC supported. Here are some links you might find very helpful:

SMART Training Center: http://smarttech.com/trainingcenter/
SMART Education (phenomenal site): http://education.smarttech.com/ste/en-us/
SMART YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/SMARTClassrooms
SMART TeacherTube: http://www.teachertube.com/uprofile.php?UID=68022

Hope this helps.

alfred's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Martin,

Just curious, can there be a prescribed integration method for teaching content with IWB? If so, what is that? What can training do? Teach the functions or teach about how to integrate with the functions?


Daniel Lake's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

As a technology trainer/developer, I deal with many Central New York schools and have been working with them to do more than "integrate" technology. The real task is to add a more functional Virtual Learning Environment (VLE- a very well-defined"British" term for a Learning Management System!)to a classroom so as to transform how work happens there. By using technology, teachers can build an environment that does more than a static web page does.. that uses password-protected access to allow a teacher to provide interactive support beyond the classroom, providng content to appeal to multiple intelligences, and, more importantly, providing two-way interaction and engagement among kids, teachers, and parents.

Using Promethean boards or SmartBoards in a classroom is a boon to teachers.. but providing the work of the classroom OUTSIDE the normal walls and timeframes is even more powerful. When the board content is instantly saved, and posted online in minutes, it is more powerful than anything we have seen in the past. It is in this "virtual learning environment" that we truly prepare kids for what is happening in their college and work worlds, and already, socially, in their homes.

Pew Charitable Trust studies in the past have revealed what the next generation wants from our schools and we have systems to meet their needs.. systems such as Blackboard, Angel, Moodle, and other fully tooled management systems for teachers to use. These come at a cost, but dollars spent on these systems are far more effective than the many thousands of dollars spent on supportive administrative packages, that, albeit necessary, don't touch learners in the same way these systems can.

So.. integrate? I say TRANSFORM CLASSROOMS and CHANGE PRACTICES of the large percentage of classroom teachers who have never exchanged a document with a student ALL ELECTRONICALLY without paper!

Halima Fisher's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Greetings Mr. Lake:

I am a Business Technolgy Teacher and have just transferred to a new school district. The problems that I am finding is that if the school is not technologically savvy it is very difficult to infuse technology in your classroom independently. Blackboard is great, BUT very time consuming to do easy task, such as create teacher generated tests. Moodle, is horrible in my opinion, I have not seen a well-developed, professional looking webpage to date and if there is one available it is to difficult to find.

The other problem that I find is that if you have veteran teachers you must have an AWESOME IT Tech. to facilitate this learning process and maintain this equipment a cost that many school districts are not willing to endure.

Transform Classrooms, First we have to bring in the appropriate persons to train and maintain this new and innovative technological equipment.

cb's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree. Most children today are to technologically driven, they do know much more about the computers than there teachers. Just ask the teachers that have been teaching for 20t years and they will readily admit their students know much more than they know.

candy's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree as well with your comments. In this day and age, most children know far more than their teachers about computers. I have seen teachers pull students out of other classes to help solve technical problems. This is definitely true if you have someone that has been teaching for 20t years.

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