Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are Many | Edutopia
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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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Susan's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree that schools need to make changes to how they use technology.They need to make technology appeal by using it in ways children can relate. My son is 13 and luckily he has the opportunity to use technology in a way he can connect to the learning process. He often comes home and shows the rest of the family what he learned. He has discovered a great deal about the world and science in a fun and responsible way. Sometimes I am not even sure he realizes he was studying.

However, I teach at a younger level in the same district and often feel our district doesn't promote technology at my level. I do not have the resources to excite my own students the way our middle and upper grades can. I feel it is important to inspire our youngest learners with technology so we can build healthy habits. They are born into a world where they are constantly being entertained by television, game systems, toys, we should tap into that resource and use what technology we have to show that learning can be just as entertaining.

One last note, I have a few students this year with learning disabilities. I have done some reading recently and have discovered that there are many wonderful resources I could use with these children which would involve using computers. I know these students would learn and benefit from such programs but since they are a minority, there isn't much support to incorporate such technology into our regular classrooms. I find this incredibly frustrating. We identify students so much more than we have in the past with various disabilities and we incorporate them into the classrooms. Districts must support those teachers by enabling them to use specific technologies to aid these students. I would love to know if anyone else can relate to this or if my distric is simply behind in the technological field.

Tammy L Smith's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Technology is an important part of any classroom. Children of today are no longer children of yesterday. Children of today have grown up with technology. They use game systems and can multi-task. They know more than the teachers know about technology. I have had students teach me about technology. When I was growing up the only technology that I had was an Atari. Teachers who stand up and teach are boring to kids because they want interesting hands on activities. Technology enhances learning for students. Students no longer have to leave classroom to go on a field trip. Virtual field trips make all this possible. Children can travel anywhere around the world.
As a teacher, I find the internet to be an awesome resource. Teachers can get lessons and resource material on any topic from the internet. We no longer have to go to a teachers store to find a resource. In addition, most of the material from the internet is free.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Educators need to integrate the technology into daily lessons rather than use it instead some great activities which been around for years.It is very important that we are keeping up with a pace of our society. I believe that we cannot simple to cross out previous experiences, but we should build a new knowledge on what we already know, by using technology. It is also very important that teachers get all the support and training in order to be proficient at technology.

Jeff's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I do not think that using technology to lead a lesson is a bad idea. Yes, you have websites that go down, servers fail to function correctly and so on, but I have taught courses that completely rely on the use of technology. I agree with the need of a backup plan in case something fails to operate correctly, but everyday I rely fully on technology to complete daily tasks. For example, I worked with students in a computer animation class that uses a program called Flash. If for some reason the schools network is down then students are unable to log into the necessary programs to complete their projects. There are different backup plans in place for times when the network may be down, but we plan on the network working and rely on its capabilities. This is part of the learning process and students have to be prepared for changes in the schedule and make the necessary adaptations. This teaches students despite obvious flaws in technology it allows us to do things that otherwise would be difficult or nearly impossible. If students think that technology never malfunctions then their is a false reality. Even with the problems that accompany technology usage I heavily rely on its capablities to teach my classes. Sometimes using new technology requieres even more planning and trial and error which in turn requires more time to be put into planning. I often find that the teachers who are having the most trouble with new technology are the ones that plan it and fail to try it out before presenting it to students. To do new and innovative things takes much time and practice, but the time spent is well worth it when you see how successful students are in the end.

Urey's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with you on the technology integration in the classroom. We, as educators, are expected to begin using technology ourselves, so I believe we should pass on the use of technology to our students. These students know more about some of the different realms of technology than we do. We are doing them an injustice by only allowing them to learn from us in the classroom.
We are fortunate to have a large computer lab in our building, but we only are able to use the lab once a week on a regular basis. Sometimes you can sneak in another time slot if you're lucky, but not usually. The students are used to being able to use their technology at home and I believe we could be more effective teachers if we were able to integrate more technology in our classrooms on a daily basis.
I would love to have a Smartboard in my classroom to use on a daily basis. My students would get so much more out of my teaching if I was able to integrate the technology that I know they love. The interactive ability that a Smartboard has would be fabulous to use in a classroom on a daily basis. You would be able to access any website and answer any unanswered questions in the click of a button. This would be a great study to conduct on how the integration of technology affects the outcome in the students' learning process.

Stephanie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I teach 6th grade. In my room I have tried to encorporate as much technology as possible. The students respond to it and are excited by it. I have used a Smartboard for doing daily math problems and the students fall all over themselves to be the one who gets up to show their answer and work. These same problems, when done on the overhead, caused students to roll their eyes and sigh in boredom. So, I have seen how students respond positively to technology. Students are emersed in technology in their daily lives. Just last week I had a students who was having a very hard time understanding a word problem that we were working on. It asked if a person could record a song that was 27 minutes and 58 seconds on a tape that was 27 minutes long. The student didn't know what a tape was so I said, "Could you download a song on your computer that was 27 minutes and 58 second long if your memory could hold 27 minutes?" This made sense to the student and they were able to then answer the question. Just more proof at how prevelant technology is in our society.

John Sommantico's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

As a math teacher, I am constantly battling myself on this topic. I see the benefits of technology in learning mathematics, but I also see the negatives, and I firmly agree that these do exist. At this time, I would rather look at a broader issue involving the use of technology as a teaching tool: the increased level of student engagement.

I cannot deny this fact. Kids do spend lots of time on their cell phones, video games, etc., and when technology is used in the classroom the students do seem to focus more. Many of my colleagues and administrators are aware of this fact. However, I wonder if this is always a good thing. While running the risk of sounding a bit negative, it pains me to see how human beings are in some ways no longer being accorded the same courtesy and respect as machinery, both in and out of the classroom.

As a teacher I have to attend workshops, trainings, professional development seminars, and other meetings. It is during these times that I have seen some of the problems we have created. Many of our younger teachers, the ones who were basically raised on technology, very often do not function appropriately in a public setting, particularly during an oral presentation. They are constantly "off task" themselves, engaging in private conversations,text messaging, even conversing on their phones. It's as if the speaker at the front of the room is meaningless.

Unless we want to live in a world in which all communication is done via computers or text messaging, verbal communication will continue to exist. If for no other reason, it's more personal, when the situation calls for that level of intimacy. For example, a welcome speech by our superintendent each September, and his introduction of new hires in our district, is done orally, not on screen. But I feel that some of us are "teaching" our students that it is OK to be off task if a teacher or anyone else is presenting something verbally without using powerpoint or some other form of media. We continually justify students' off task behavior as being entirely our fault; a problem that can be managed if not fixed by incorporating technology. These students grow up to become our colleagues, co-workers, and neighbors, and too often I've seen student "off task" behavior displayed by many of the adults who are supposed to be teaching and setting examples of appropriateness and professionalism.

I am not trying to convey an "anti-technology" stance. My intent is to hopefully get others to take a look at the potential downsides and unintended consequences that technology may produce, so that these pitfalls may be avoided. My other intent is to express my belief that although technology can be a powerful aid to student learning, it should not be the primary focus.

Greicy's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Technology has not only become another subject, but a tool in which we can incorporate into other subjects as well. Computer resources provide exceptional metholds to expand classroom activities as well as "hands on" learning. It's not about relying on computers to perform your daily scheduled routines, instead incorporate them and use them as an aid to your curriculum. Education has evolved and it is safe to say it is evolving with technology in this day and age.

M. Russell's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I've noticed that so many people have commented that the use of technology in the classroom should be to make learning fun and to keep students' attention. But how long will it be before they get bored of the technology? Now it might seem new and exciting because it is limited, but the more it is used, the less they will be excited by it. It seems to me that in our effort to motivate kids, or more acurately, to entertain them enough so that they pay attention, we are teaching them that if something isn't fun, then it is ok that they get off task. Has anyone noticed that life is not always fun? That sometimes you have to do things that seem petty or boring just because it has to be done? Kids today feel like they always have to be entertained and that it is the teacher's job to do it. I think that using technology in the classroom offers many benefits to education, but I think that we ought to be careful in our reason for using it.

Melissa R.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Being in a Teaching and Technology class, it only seemed appropriate to look over this article. Integrating technology within the curriculum will give access to vast repositories of information and resources. Technology in the curriculum allows visualization, conceptualization, and opportunities to create engaged learners. In my opinion, technology accommodates varied learning styles needed in a classroom. Technology is a wonderful tool that can be used to assist teachers and students in the classroom. In fact, teachers should be encouraged to use technology to assist them in their role as teacher. This is an important step towards integrating technology into the curriculum. However the true integration of technology goes far beyond the role of assistant. The integration of technology should contribute to the teaching and learning in the classroom. Computers shouldn't be an add-on or used as a time filler. The computer should be a means for reaching the instructional objectives in the classroom.

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