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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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Joanna Posey's picture
Joanna Posey
Secondary-Special Education Teacher

The other day, I was invited to observe an iPad classroom. Students were assigned an iPad and they literally used it all day in the same classroom. All content was delivered to each student via downloads. Those with special needs still downloaded a different file but the other students didn't notice because they were working independently.

As in many schools, students rotate classrooms every hour. Yet, the students I observed only rotated for the arts and physical education blocks. The rest of the content was delivered by iPad in their own room.

The key to success was in maintaining the routine. Specific routines were given for opening files, saving files, putting the iPad away, and talking with others. If a routine was violated, the student who violated the routine couldn't work on the iPad but was destined to a paper worksheet. Others who followed the routine could work on exciting problem solving games for a few minutes as their rewards for following the instruction.

I never thought I'd see a paperless classroom, but I did. Amazing and insightful, it was!

Megan M.'s picture

I am a college student, and throughout my years of education I can relate to how technology can help in classrooms. As the years pass in education, electronics are used more than hard copies; most professors find that electronics are more reliable. It gives students more responsibility as well as helping them become more active. Technology has provided research and reliable information to support papers, projects, or any assignments in the classroom. Not only does technology help students, it also helps the parents. Using technology in the classroom allows the parents to have a better understanding of what their child is learning. Most parents find that keeping up with technology in the classroom is helpful in and out of school settings. With technology, students are able to learn more and expand their minds to achieve to a higher level.

Brooke D.'s picture

This article provided a really good overview of the introduction of new technology into the learning and teaching process. As a future English teacher, part of me is partial to the idea of traditional learning with simply students, a teacher, a book, and a discussion. At the same time, though, students' home lives are becoming more and more high tech, and with shortening attention spans and wilder imaginations, they might require more innovative methods. For example, watching a movie version of a novel or short story after reading it might appeal to those who are more visual learners. As a teacher, I will have to use whatever methods that work best for my students while still trying to remain faithful to my personal philosophy of education.

One point that the article brought up that I really liked was: "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." Before reading this piece, I had only thought that technology was important in the classroom because of the aforementioned reason. I didn't realize that technology also prepares students for an advancing society and workplace. Also, regarding the students' future, using new pieces of technology might also introduce someone to an undiscovered interest or talent or even career path.

If I can help a student see the subject in a new light, then I have done my job.

Gage M.'s picture
Gage M.
Secondary Physical Education student

Technology is becoming more and more a part of classrooms across the country. Many schools now assign laptops and iPads for the students to complete all their work on and be more interactive educationally with one another and the teachers. This article shows the major role technology has on the student and how the educator is helping them to prepare for the real world environment as we become or technology-dependent as a nation.

Erin R.'s picture
Erin R.
College Student, Mathematics/Secondary Education Major

What I like most about this article is how it says, "When technology is effectively integrated into subject areas, teachers grow into roles of adviser, content expert, and coach." By integrating technology into the classroom, this gives students the chance to interact with their classmates and teachers, also. I feel that by using the technology we have nowadays, students can become more confident in their work. This is where being a teacher gives you the role of advisor, coach, etc...So involving the students in these type of things, you are also gaining more knowledge, along with them. Classes will be more interesting and involved with the added technology, and in turn, I feel that students will have a more willingness to learn.

Dalton S.'s picture
Dalton S.
Secondary Education Mathematics Major

I think that we are all aware of the benefits to the field of education that technology can usher in, and the details that this article provides is simply astounding. However, all of these points become mute if the students begin to abuse the privilege. This is best summed up in two short words used in the first paragraph, "Properly used,..." The hardest part of this technological integration to help modernize the classroom is going to be conveying the importance of responsibility to the students. There are only so many things that teachers can do themselves to help integrate the classroom, but sooner or later we are going to have to impart trust upon the students.

Alexa B.'s picture

I believe that technology integration can be beneficial to the teachings of students, but it also has its drawbacks. When I was young, my teachers had to teach on boards and with over-head projectors. We would watch VHS movies and we had very limited internet access. In my own home, I grew up with dial up service and only got on the computer to do research. This made me use books as references and also gave me more time for extra-curricular readings. With the current advancements in technology, children are growing up with full access to the internet and DVDs and other advances. Yes, there are many pros to technological integration, such as the instant research options and some social media networks, but the cons are, to me, more substancial to the deterioration of the minds of the newer generations. Kids now spend time online to play games, tweet, update their Facebook, watching YouTube vidoes, and much more instead of spending time outside playing. This results in a build-up of their energy, which is then used in the wrong ways. Kids are more violent because of their video games, and they are very rarely ever seen with actual books. With new technology, there is no more need for books, for Kindle, e-books, etc. take care of that for them. Because of this, book stores will start going out of business. The same thing applies to movie stores. Netflix, Redbox, Hulu, and many other new streaming advances means that there is no need for DVDs of rentals. To me, this means that our country will suffer if these advances are not controlled. Now, do not get me wrong, technology is very beneficial, but it will also lead to irreversible damage on future generations.

Jana W's picture

As a college student I am noticing more and more that technology is being integrated into schooling more. This semester one of my books is actually on a CD. By my sophomore year in high school every classroom had an active board in it. Teachers would use these boards for taking notes they also had attachments so that students could interact with them as well. I know that my classmates and I were more intrigued in the lesson plan because we were able to use this new technology.
I believe that using technology in the classroom is taking a step forward. Children are becoming used to using technology in every part of their lives so why not take advantage by using it in the classroom to help them learn? The new technology being introduced in the classroom offers the students new ways of experience. Incorporating this technology makes learning far more interesting to students and is fun as well.

Payton R's picture

After reading this article, it gives so much enthusiasm to start teaching my own classes. I am currently a college student hoping to one day teach biology to high school students. When i was in high school, all of my biology teachers were so mean and boring and i never had any fun. Now with technology i think i can make my learning environment exciting. In this article is says that there are new tech tools that can help students experiment and observe phenomenon, and thats exactly how i want to run my classroom. I want my students to stay awake and stay enthused during class, because lets face it, biology is not the easiest subject. So if there are ways to make class more enjoyable for young teenagers by the use of technology, i cant wait to learn them.

Cassidy H's picture

Integrating technology into the classroom is definitely an amazing way to reach diversity in learning styles and keep students focused. I graduated in 2005 and when I was in high school the option to go to the computer lab to work on assignments was an absolute excitement. If our assignment was on the computer itself through a program the whole class definitely stayed focused as if it was a treat instead of actual work to be done. Knowing that it was like this for me and my classmates in high school make me very excited for my future students. I hope to find new ways to consistently integrate different technologies into my English teachings keeping students focused. Many find English classes to be very boring and I myself was quite bored in some of mine. My only concern is when students are set out on a scavenging mission looking for information they may come across false facts. I'm sure we promote students to use sources that are accredited but never the less they will be searching everywhere for more info to suffice their homework.

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