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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
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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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Alfred Low's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with Brad's point that one of the major hindrance to technology integration has been that IT is often a daunting area for most teachers because "no one teacher can learn all there is about a software program used for integration."

Perhaps teacher professional development is not hitting the nail on its head to effect change in educational practice. It is not easy to make up what a piece of technology tool (hardware or software) can do in relation to a teaching task at hand. In HCI studies, Pike (1967) distinguishes between emic and etic properties. "The former are properties of the technology as they are represented by teachers and is internal to the cognitive system. "The latter are objective properties that are independent of any observer." (p. 45). What matters to what a person (the teacher or the student) does is are emic properties - using facebook functions to distribute readings; using Wikis for propositions and rebuttals in causal reasoning."It is not not how the world is that determines your actions, but how you take the world to be." Pike appears to be an existentialist. When teachers and students use technology in learning tasks, they "construct a certain internal description of the stimulus (or task) and then make decisions from this representation, which are then converted into motor commands" In addition the user have to link particular places in the world (the software interface and the task at hand)with the internal description and with arguments to effect subsequent motor commands. Put simply, you have to make up what to do next from what you understand what you can do with technology's functions.

Professional development have not done enough to address the honing of such skills? What many have done was to supply exemplars of technology integration to influence practice. But is this enough? I should add in passing that perhaps there is still a hugh gap in human and computer interaction that needs to be filled. More specifically I mention Grudin. Grudin (1990)'s idea of embodied interaction appears technology reaching out, in which interaction moves from being directly focussed on the physical machine to incorporate more and more of the user's world and the social setting in which the user is embedded.

There should be more work done in operationalizing technological pedagogical content knowledge in professional development. At the same time more work should be done to make technology more intelligent.

I recall reading somewhere in this Website that the entry to technology integration is when users (teachers and students) actually begin using technologies. For example, I read in the papers that some lecturers in my Singapore use Facebook to distribute lecture materials and Wikis for collaborations in project work. They made the decision to use these technologies because users are already using them. So this is a case of going with the flow when you sense the flow of things.

I would like to add a disclaimer that I might be speaking out of ignorance here. If so, your pardon is sought.

D. Venters's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Teaching and learning go together. There is no good teaching without learning. The students of this generation learn through, with and from technology. From as early as two years old, children are learning with techonology. As a former physics teacher, I learned that student learning can be enhanced by making it fun. I taught everything with a toy. Students would investigate and make an effort to learn content that was of an interest to them. It is smart for teachers to use the tool of the time to enhance learning and at the same time make it fun for students.

Alffed Low's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I will comment on the pedagogical side of technology integration instead of the administrative side as my interest lies there.

I think when used correctly, technology can extend human abilities and help people achieve more in terms of subject matter mastery.

Here's an analogy that I use in class with my students - think metaphorically in terms of pole-vaulting; the pole is the technology, the cross-bar the learning challenge, the athlete is the student or teacher user. Proper use of the pole helps the athlete clear greater heights that would not have been possible without the pole?

But the problem is with the use of the pole - understanding how to exploit its properties - tensile strength and flexibility. Another hurdle is people's natural aversion to technology which create the psychological barrier for themselves and others (it can't be helped). Another complication as one member of this discussion forum mentioned - the changing role of teachers and learners. Wexler's Living School project has more...

Also...I am witnessing more and more uses of the activity theory to plan and to critique technology integration with the view of improving teaching and learning. Technology integration is no longer an isolated task but is interwoven with other activities and stakeholders, rules, division of labor etc.. which makes it even more difficult to implement, articulate and control.

I hope someone can advice me about the usefulness of my research. I am trying to develop a model that represents the manifestations of technology integration, i.e., what manifestation of technology integration go with what level of technological pedagogical content knowledge. Intuitively, it used to be that more tech savvy teachers tend to create their own learning objects. Less tech savvy teachers tend to use more off the shelf Web 2.0 technologies like exe, LAMS etc. The lines are blurring these days. I wish to make my contribution to professional development.

Please help...teachers! How can I design my research? Thanks!

Ms. Tech's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Although there is not set curriculum in Technology there is a set of technology standards Check out ISTE - technology standards
It is these standards that teachers can use to design their lessons , projects etc . Technology is attached to the world at large and as long as it is always changing so will the lessons that integrate it .

Alfred Low's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Visited the ISTE Website as you advised. The content is organized under four labels /headings: General, Publishers, Planning and advice, and software and hardware.
And so I thought I might get a theoretical model - there isn't quite one found. The use of technology should be situated within proven methods of instruction? You are suggesting that technology should be allowed to change instructional practice?

Well in some sense you are right, new functionalities do change teaching and learning tasks from the personal point of view, as opposed to the systems point of view. I am citing Norman (1991. p. 20) in Carroll's book "Designing Interaction - Psychology at the Human Computer Interface. Under the system's view, "we see the entire system composed of the person, the task, and the artifact." Seen from this point of view, technology enhanced cognition, for with the aid of the technology tool, a system can be accomplished more than without the artifact." Under the personal view, that of the individual person who must use the technology tool, the view of the task has changed : thus the technology does not enhance cognition - it changes the instructional or learning task.

This means that the events under proven instructional methods must bend to accommodate the functions /features of new technologies? What happened to proven pedagogically informed teaching strategies? They have to be junked?

What not read: Beetham, H. & Sharpe, R. (2007).Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age.UK: Routledge. ISBN:0-415-40873-3

Jeff House, Pasadena TX's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Technology integration is essential in today's world. The ease of gathering information with the new tools is what makes it so extremely useful. When my kids ask me a question that is a potential teaching moment, I no longer go to dictionary, encyclopedia and library research with a promise to get back them with an answer. Now it is an instant Google search-and-find. Typically this leads to other Q&A's and further discussion on related topics. Additionally, learning is enhanced through hands-on interaction with the education experience. The software available and steady drop in costs of hardware makes this an easy and entertaining task. Linking knowledge and learning with these new tools is a necessity of the new age and we teachers need to embrace the fact that every child in your third grade class will be holding a PDA, iPod, smart phone or some other electronic communication device in the very near future. These tools need to be used not shunned.

Rafa's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

The technology integration and the digital divide has traditionally been defined as an issue of lack of accessibility amongst schools and students from low SES (Socio-Economic Status) and traditional racial minorities. The traditional remedy for technology integration then has been to supply technology to the areas where technology is not available. While the economic accessibility of technology has become less of an issue the true issue is that effective and accessible instruction with technology has become the true digital divide in low SES communities. Bringing technology to those who do not have technology is no longer the quick fix to the digital divide, but giving students accessible, effective and challenging technology based instruction in all content areas is the bridge for the digital divide.

Margaret Bass's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Margaret Spellings is part and parcel of the Bush/Cheney administration and therefore must not be misunderstood for even one second...just as all b/c loyalists, she is attempting to save herself while staying in tune with "them", making her last-ditch effort to justify herself and the actions she has taken for the sake of her possessors, since the end is near. Least we forget, she is even to this day, backing "no child left behind" since most assuredly she has the going percentage allowed deposited into her account upon termination of said administration. The fact that she is endorsing Qualcom (can anyone say big corporate power lobbyist) at the very inception of the article says, as they say, volumes.

Jake Krause's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Technology is here to stay. I use graphing calculators, scientific calculators, and a smartboard in my classroom. However, I always am asking myself the question, "How much do I allow my students to rely on the technology?". Every time I put a calculation on the board, do I let them rely on their calculator for an answer? Because technology is here and not going anywhere, I try to differentiate to my students when and why a calculator is needed as opposed to our God-given brains. While calculators are great and getting better, I believe they can take basic skills away from our students.

Allison B.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I feel technology in the classroom is very useful for web search and information, however I agree very much with the assessment posted by M. Russell. Educators are charged with helping to make students prepared for the workplace. I would feel apprehensive about drastically changing my teaching style into a lights and virtual show. As stated by the article "Technology also changes the way teachers teach, offering educators effective ways to reach different types of learners and assess student understanding through multiple means", this always sounds great on paper, however when was the last time by principal changed the format of faculty meeting to meet my individual preferences? As parent, I stronly believe it isn't fair to let children believe this is what it is like in the real world. I want my students to understand there is a difference between studying and sensational projects, the latter should be used sparingly. After all, isn't that what the movies are for?

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