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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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jenny's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I totally agree with having to integrate technology across the whole curriculum. Just using computers in technology class does not allow our students to fully realize the full potential of the technology available in this world. We need to show them how helpful these new technologies can be. I consider myself to be pretty good at using technologies like computers and video/camera equipment. I need some work in using the newer MP3 technology out there though. Teachers can use so many forms of technology to reach the many different learning styles of all of our students, but we also need to be willing to learn from our students who may me better equppied with using some of the newer technologies. What a great way for them to learn, let them become the teachers.

jenny's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with you Beth, and I too plan on using more technology in my teaching this year. It is difficult for me because I am going back to being a Kindergarten Paraprofessional after being a long term Kindergarten substitute. Since I am a teaching assisstant basically I have no classroom and no supplies provided by my school so I have to provide my own technology, which means using my laptop and anything else I can get my hands on. I also believe in technology's power to inspire our student's love of learning.

Kellye's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Jenny, I read your letter and could relate to your comments. I run a computer lab in Hawaii. This year is my second full year in this position. When I got there, the lab had been shut down for two years. It didn't take too long for us to get our act together, but communication is key. You also need the support of your principal. Our principal takes technology very seriously. Although I don't plan what the teachers do in the lab, they consult with me, and I do research, or set up for them. I also teach them programs before they actually use them by giving demonstrations. Maybe you could talk to your principal about what the teachers need for the kids to learn in the lab. I communicate with the teachers everyday about their use of the lab. Maybe the lab instructor isn't fully aware of what's expected of him. I work with K-5. Everyone NWEA's three times a year, too. Maybe if everyone can come up with a plan, lab time can become more productive. Good luck!

Samantha's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am a student teacher in Australia and am trying to finalise an assignment which is asking for evidence on the impact of ICT use particularly in the Health and PE area - does any one have any anecdotes or links to research that I can use... please.


Greg Schwanke 's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree that integrating SMART boards into any classroom can bring a whole new level of learning to our students. I am a 7th grade English teacher in Omaha, Nebraska. I am frustrated with the technology that the English department at my school has. Our Math department has SMART boards and I, as well as other English teachers, would like to follow the Math department and get some SMART boards. However, we need to find some research about the benefits of SMART boards in an English classroom. I was wondering if you could help me with my quest. Any direction will help.


Kim Rourke's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

My first suggestion is to have someone who has a Smart board in your school show you the ropes. Hopefully, they will be willing to show you samples of some of the lessons appropriate for your English dept. There are lessons already made and submitted by other teachers that are often perfect for your lessons so you don't have to feel overwhelmed at first. Active participation by your students make Smart Boards as great for you as for your Math coworkers. You can do grammar work, writing process work, and vocabulary generating a lot more enthusiasm than with a chalkboard. I would also recommend looking into United Streaming video streaming. There are also many educational benefits to this, and you can pause the "show" and write directly on the Smart Board to emphasize some aspect of the show.

As you can tell, I LOVE my Smart Board and feel I have only begun to scrape the surface of its potential. I am a 4th grade teacher in Westland, MI and use it for every subject. I used to teach high school English/Spanish and I am sure a Smart Board would be a benefit to your curriculum. Good Luck!

Mary Wilkinson, Mays, Indiana's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

The elementary school where I taught last year had two smartboards. They were great. The sixth grade teacher used one every single day, all day, in every subject. I was amazed and was just learning to use it myself. I was transfered this year to a small rural school with no smartboard and no money to buy one. Does anyone know where I can apply for a grant to get one of these fabulous tools?

Caroline LaMagna's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I don't have any articles or research to link to for you, but I can tell you that for the past 3 years, I taught 8th grade English. I had regular classes and inclusion classes. I maintained my own website, Moodle site, used a school blog, and used technology in my classroom regularly. I had the Smartboard in my classroom about once a week. I also used the school laptops - I could not access the computer lab because the math classes had dominion over it...but I had 5 desktops in my room that I sometimes used for group work. I also had access to an LCD projector pretty much whenever I needed it. My students responded very, very well to the use of technology - some of them would go on my website at home of their own accord. This year, I started a new position as an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher for two of the elementary schools in my district, so I don't know what the state test scores were for my students last year. However, the year before last, my kids had the highest scores in my building for 8th grade English and their scores were even higher than the district average. If I am remembering the numbers correctly, my school's average was 71%, the district average was 76% and my kids were at 81.5%. I really feel that the use of technology in my classroom is what gave my kids the edge. They really worked hard for me because they enjoyed what they were doing. I am so proud of them!

Robie, Townsville, Australia's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

The Edutopia staff raised the notion of ICT Integration needing to be about "active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts".We are grouping those into the single phrase "Contemporary Learning". I found it fascinating that the discussion quickly turned to electronic whiteboards (Smartboards). Schools in our Diocese continue to invest hevily in these devices. How do people feel these rate when it comes to Contemporary learning? I would have thought a tool like a wiki or discussion board, or blog would be a far more powerful tool (and far less expensive)... EWBs are very teacher centric aren't they? Do they really do much to change traditional pedagogy?

Andrew Pass's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I think that Google Earth is one phenomenal resource that can be used in many English/language arts courses when studying novels that are set in specific places.

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