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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

Comments (379)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Nicole B.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I feel anyone who reads this article and has classroom experience would agree that integrating technology into the classroom in this day and age is imperative. However, everything has its place. As the article states, "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." The video included in this article has wonderful examples of ways that technology is intertwined in the curriculum to deepen and enhance each students learning. Every student was actively engaged, motivated and many were working within a group to achieve a specified outcome.
I believe the key to successfully integrating technology is to first make sure it is appropriate for the age of the children and that the technology enhances the learning and engages all children.

Alfred Low's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

"Technology integration must support four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts."

Nice article but I have a problem with the article's rather deterministic proposition. We are expected to agree that "active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts" is not possible without unless there is technology integration or that, "active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts" is enhanced with Technology integration?

Don't hate me.

G. Dawkins's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

The integration of instructional technology is essential in the 21st century classroom. The world is changing at a rapid pace and it is imperative that as educators we provide our students with the tools necessary for success. Technological literacy is a crucial component for future success. The classroom may be the only opportunity some students have to use computers and integrate technology in life. When used effectively, technology deepens the learning process. For my students, I find that they are actively engaged when using technology, they are willing to work cooperatively toward a goal, they assist one another, they rise to a challenge to work and try harder to complete a project, and feel successful when they have completed a task and presented it to others. They take risks they might not take, or perhaps couldn't take working with more traditional media. I have observed my students' personal and academic growth when using technology in the classroom and hope to improve my knowledge of technological applications to prepare my students for the future.

G. Dawkins's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Being able to differentiate between valid content and rubbish on the web is a crucial skill in the 21st century. If you teach your junior high students now, you'll have empowered them for the future, they'll have acquired a skill with real-life applications they can use in high school, college and beyond.

Kim T.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am a fan of using the most current classroom technology in service of engaging students in higher level thinking. I teach 6th grade science and I, like Jeff House in an earlier post,suggest a google search when students pose questions or express curiosity about different science topics or controversy rather than dragging out the dictionary or dusting off an encyclopedia. I do find, however, that the students I teach are in great need of critical reading skills. There are many science topics that are politically charged and several issues that are hotly debated. Students need to read the articles and interpret graphs and other visuals with skepticism. Students must learn that finding information on the web does not make it true. They need to ask "Who created this and what do they want me to believe after reading this?" These are non-fiction reading skills that are crucial to reading any text and life skills important for deciphering truth from hype in everything from a newspaper article to a documentary. My students seem to be pushovers for a glitzy graph or a witty cartoon with a political message. It is not until the presentation is undressed, and the barebone facts revealed, that they are able to sift fact from propaganda.

Jennifer F.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

For as long as I can remember technology has played a critical role in my own learning experience. Although the mediums may change, I would expect nothing less for my own students. Although the technology has expanded in leaps and bounds the underlying theme remains the same: reaching students in new innovative ways. When I taught kindergarten I believed in bringing the students to the computer lab as soon as possible to introduce and model new technology in a whole group experience and then the students would be able to work in a guided instruction manner with in the classroom setting on what they learned. I think while teaching new technology and using technology in the classroom it is important to become a facilitator of the learning experience instead of a director. Project based learning gives students a chance to take control with guidance of their own learning and truly engage in different topics instead of being a passive by stander in the learning experience. I firmly believe my job as an educator is to prepare my students to become successful, contributing members of the 21st century society; technology is and will be infused throughout my students learning experience on many levels.

virginia ferraro's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This article brings many valid points to light. We, as teachers, are responsible for preparing our students for managing their careers and families in the 21st century. They would be at a great disadvantage if we did not prepare them using current technologies. When used appropriately, technology can, infact enhance and deepen the learning process. This, of course, requires teachers who are trained inusing technology for that same function. The generation we are teaching has been "logged on" most of their lives. This, however, does not mean they are using the technology properly, or appropriately. Looking up facts or images, and using the the internet as a problem solving and critical thinking tool are very different. It is necessary that we guide our students for their growth, and not just to fill a void or entertain. Teachers must use technology responsibly, and impress that on their students, as well. It is a wonderful, and necessary tool, but can also be distructive. We need to be cautious.

virginia ferraro's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This article brings many valid points to light. We, as teachers, are responsible for preparing our students for managing their careers and families in the 21st century. They would be at a great disadvantage if we did not prepare them using current technologies. When used appropriately, technology can, infact enhance and deepen the learning process. This, of course, requires teachers who are trained inusing technology for that same function. The generation we are teaching has been "logged on" most of their lives. This, however, does not mean they are using the technology properly, or appropriately. Looking up facts or images, and using the the internet as a problem solving and critical thinking tool are very different. It is necessary that we guide our students for their growth, and not just to fill a void or entertain. Teachers must use technology responsibly, and impress that on their students, as well. It is a wonderful, and necessary tool, but can also be distructive. We need to be cautious.

Cynthia H's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with this article that technology should be included in classroom instruction across the curriculum. It should definitely be more than just basic computer skills and also support curricular goals of the subject area.

I feel that the possibilities are endless to reflect the four key componenets mentioned in the article. A few examples are: having students do a Web Quest for "active engagement", utilizing power point by creating a review game for "participation in groups", teaching with a Smart Board lesson for "frequent interaction and feedback", and researching or using the World Wide Web for "real-world" information.

There are so many different options and variations of technology to utilize that there is really no excuse not to have any technology integration within the classroom in the 21st century. A classroom without any technology within a unit is simply lacking and behind the times. Teachers should be responsible and continue to learn technology to keep up with the students. It will benefit them by keeping the students interested, on task, having fun, and most importantly LEARNING!

Cynthia H's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with the article that technology should definitely be included across a curriculum and that it should be more than just basic computer skills.

Some examples of technology for the four key components listed in the article are: Web Quests for "active engagement", power point presentation review games for "participation in groups", Smart Board lessons for "frequent interaction and feedback", and the World Wide Web to reasearch and use resources for "real world" experts. There are so many possibilities with technology in the classroom, that there is really no excuse not to have it in a classroom. Technology opens up a whole new way of learning and it is critical for teachers to keep up to date for the 21st century learners.

I feel that it is a teacher's responsibility to continue to learn new things, just like students. Utilizing technology, students will be interested, on task, having fun, and most importantly LEARNING!

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