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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 (382)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Alfred Low's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Dear Beth, could you share with us how technology opens doors and windows for you as an educator and to your students and learners? Thanks.

Alfred Low's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Some pointers of posting brings up important considerations in technology integration:

Computer skills are necessarily a prerequisite for integrating technologies affordances into learning activities.

The Smartboard in many ways mirrors the chalkboard and so most teachers are able to perceive and take up its affordances in instruction - didactic or activity-based.

I guess teaching with technologies is a skill that has to be learnt. I used Youtube in my lectures and the learning management system's tools such as discussion forums and project tools to administrate group-based work. Occasionally I also used the surveys and assessment tool in term time to test my students.

I personally find it a challenge to teach better by teaching less and finding ways to educate so that my students learn more. I guess good teaching with technology is not an easy thing to do. It needs you to think through carefully what is it in technology you want to use to stand in proxy of the features of your learning design.

Educational technology researchers recommends the following way to integrate technology: In short think of conceptualizing your learning design first, i.e. thin in terms of activity and task. Task is what the teacher performs and activities are what the student performs. Locate the pedagogical profile of each activity on three axes : (1) rote to discovery; (2) non-reflective to reflective and individual to social. and then you map the right digital tool to the task (and this is hard, it needs you to understand the affordances and constraints). This process is iterative as the socialcultural environment changes.

In sum, integrating technology into teaching and learning is a wicked problem but it is not impossible.

Alfred Low's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Dear Rebecca,

I agree with you. Planning effective us is a challenge.

"Teaching and learning with minimal equipment allows teachers to "tailor their approach to the immediate needs of learners" Teachers can easily ascertain how learners are performing, rearrange groups and reassign learning activities, phrase explanation differently to help learners to understand the subject matter better. (Beetham & Sharpe, 2007, p. 7). With the use of ICT/ digital technologies, all pedagogical activities "require forethought and an explicit representation of what learners and teachers will do" (p. 7). Consequently "teachers use ICT in their classrooms only when it has a particular resonance with their pedagogic and subject philosophy" (Watson, 2001, p. 254.)

The researchers echoes your sentiments.

Thanks.

Alfred Low's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Agree with you Brandon.It is important to mention the many ways technology integration has failed to work apart from talking only about how it works.

One of the problems I faced is learning how to the Sharepoint Wiki for the purpose of integrating it into lesson plans. I like use problem-based learning as pedagogical strategy since I teach adults. We have an institutional Wiki for use free-of-charge. But I found it impossible to create restricted viewing for some user-generated content and could not let my students have limited administrative rights to manage their own content restriction.

So I had to source for other Wikis that will support PBL.

Kevin's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree that there are challenges. We have computers in our rooms at school, different types in the lab, and the kids use different ones at home. It's hard to teach a skill in the lab that they can't do in the room. It's hard to teach internet skills when many of our kids don't have the internet at home. We can't do much about that, but as a school/district, we just don't have the money to upgrade and make all the computers the same. K-2 have different ones, 3-5 have a different brand/model/year, and the lab is all the same, but a little different than the classrooms. As long as we plug along and keep doing EVERYTHING we can with what we have, it benefits the kids and they'll be better for it somewhere down the line!

Jenny's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I first wanted to ask a quick question, what is a SmartBoard because I have never heard about them before?

I also wanted to talk about the challenges of integrating technology. I teach in Kindergarten and so using technology is challenging because the children are so young and so more time has to be taken to teach them how to use it and what to do wiht it. Our technology teacher does not help with this because he logs the kids onto starfall and lets them play games for 30 minutes whenever they have technology class. The teacher are fed up with this and yet no help is given to ensure that our students are learning how to actually use the computers. This is especially hard on us because the Kindergarteners have to take NWEA computerized tests for assessment three times during the year, but they do not know what to do with the computer. I wanted to integrate more tech. time into my lessons, but could not because the computers for my room were always being taken out so they could be used for testing elsewhere. Even though it sounds like I am ranting, which in some ways I am, I do agree with you Kevin that we have to deal with what we have and keep plugging along. I am hoping to work something out with the tech teacher this year to help teach my students more about the computer and what there is for them out there. I am also planning on using my own laptop in the room for extra educational experiences like viewing a special video on the internet or writing to their favorite author. I also have to use the other technologies available to me like the listening center and whatever else I can get my hands on. Our world is huge and full of promise and possibilities and we have a wonderful opportunity to make that available to our students.

Alfred Low's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

"Effective tech integration must happen across the curriculum in ways that research shows deepen and enhance the learning process." One the target - this post makes perfect sense.

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!

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