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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

Joanna C.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

As someone who often uses technology to bring visual images and concepts to my literature students, I have seen both the pros and cons to instant information. On the one hand, providing power point presentations and visual media has provided a glimpse into the era we are studying about or the conflicts associated with the characters in the novel. However, the more students are exposed to visual images and technology based interpretations, the less likely they are to make their own. Asking the students to think "creatively" is becoming more and more difficult. They have begun to rely on what has already been created instead of forming ideas and opinions of their own. Furthermore, after reflecting on this article I am skeptical of the following quote:
"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." This is only an effective practice when a teacher has already devoted class time to showing students how to screen or differentiate between valid literary analysis and the other rubbish often found on the web. Therefore, use the web with caution!

Ken H.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This article brings up a lot of interesting points about technology in the classroom. I firmly believe that at this point in time the question isn't and shouldn't be "why" but rather "how do we effectively integrate technology into the classroom?"

For me the key idea is that "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." Our goal as educators should be to prepare students for the future and life in a real world workforce by giving them the skills they need as 21st century learners. Technology, projects, and teamwork are clearly a part of that and we would be doing our students a disservice to not address that in the classroom, from an early age.
Integration is far more about using technology to enhance and further our curriculum goals than to have them stand on their own. As other people have suggested, simply teaching a tutorial on a program isn't going to be effective, it's how to use that program to research, analyze, synthesize and present that information as part of the existing curriculum. Having access to so much information at the click of a button, allows learners to be far more actively engaged and to go beyond the basic scope of the topic. But it is our responsibility to teach them how to use that information appropriately and to determine its validity.
There is much to be learned by students and teachers through the use of technology in the classroom. I think that the idea of "active engagement" can be the appeal for many educators, but I think that as more people realize the myriad of resources that actually take learning to another level that are easily accessible, more and more educators will be on board with integration.

Cindy Carrucciu's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

The generations of today already have technology integrated into their lives. They get home from school and immediately check their favorite websites, or chat with their friends online. I do not believe that the question should be "should we integrate technology into the classroom" but "what are some methods we can use in the classroom". Technology, and more specifically the internet, can be a wonderful learning tool , however it must be used in a proper manner. The sheer amount of information that can be found using the internet is exponentially larger than any one teacher can provide a student, and therefore as a teacher we must provide this amazing learning tool for our students. As I was browsing the website I came across an article about blogging as a classroom activity. Blogging is a dangerous tool for young minds, all bogs are expressions of someone opinions, and are often quite far from fact. However blogging brings forth one of the keys of a healthy learning environment, discussion. On each blog people discuss their opinions, bring in supporting facts, and sometime, not often, reach a amicable answer. It forces people to back up their statements will fact, open their eyes to other ideas, and sometimes the ability to see an issue from the other side. A blog created by a teacher for a classroom has the ability to open discussion from its students, and hopefully creating a learning environment where students not only learn the materials that were taught, but learn some very valuable life skills.

Megan S.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Megan S
I believe it is important to integrate technology into your classroom. We live in a technology driven society. By applying it to our classroom, we are preparing students for real life. Technology can be integrated a variety of ways. It is a great way to supplements lessons being taught already. The internet is a wealth of knowledge that often times does not get used to its fullest by educators. I make it a goal to incorporate technology in every unit I teach with my students in one way or another. Whether it is through a website, a video, or using a program, I think it is important to teach students the importance of technology in our lives. According to the article technology has changed the way teachers teach. It offers educations effective ways to read different types of learners and assess student understanding through multiple means.

R. Rotunno's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

The integration of technology in an elementary classroom is important. Keeping students engaged and focused is an important part of teaching at any level - especially children with short attention spans. I think integrating technology to do research, to teach math, etc. forces students to actively participate. Since many of their entertainment at home is technology based, some students may see computers and Smartboards as a fun tool to learn new things. If it's fun, students have a higher chance of retaining the information being presented. Some of the Smartboard programs I created were very interesting and engaging for many different types of learners - especially the visual learners. I thought this statement was interesting. "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." I believe this is true for most of the students - certainly not all. I find that at times, technology forces students to act out - almost as if it's fun and games. I'm not sure if they aren't used to seeing technology used in the classroom as much as I use it. I think as more teachers incorporate technology into their classroom, students may see it more as another exciting teaching tool that makes connections to the real world - not simply a game. Incorporating technology into the classroom is crucial for success now and in the future.

Tara Broome's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with the article in that technology should be integrated across the curriculum. Technology can bring subject areas, such as Social Studies, to life. This has an impact on the interest level of the students and therefore increases performance. I also agree with the article Melissa posted in that teaching students to use technology will be imperitive for their success. Using the internet within teaching core curriculum is just as important as teaching students how to independently get the information they need from the internet. Teaching students how to prepare presentations that are technologically advanced is also going to be a prerequisite for success. This is the challenging part. As a person rooted in elementary school, presentations made by the teacher with the use of technology will inspire students to learn to make presentations in the same format. As teachers learn of more ways to research effectively on the internet, they can pass that knowledge on to their students. This will help them to achieve success.

A. Manfredi's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I also agree that technology is an important componant in today's world. We are surrounded by it constantly, whether we want to be or not! Today's students are very skilled in the latest and greatest form of technology. Whether it be the computer, digital cameras, cell phones or Ipods. Video games are everywhere. As educators, we need to embrace these forms of technology and find ways to use them to enhance our curriculum. Just watch a 17 year old student with a cell phone. They can simultaneously take pictures, instant message, email and text any type of information they would like. This technology has their full attention!

Technology is a tool. In the article it states:" Effective technology intergration has occured when technology is routine and supports curricular goals". We are not looking for ways to teach them new forms of technology, we are looking for ways to use technology in our current lesson plans to keep them engaged in the current curriculum requirements.

I too agree we should have more "BRAIN" usage. Reading, writing and arithmetic are all still very essential in this day and age, it's just today, we are using a differnet method to accomplish our goals.

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.

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