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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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Leah's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Technology is essential for the everyday workings of a school. Whether or not every student in your school has a computer or there is just one for the secretary technology is a vital piece to our lives. To leave out technology and the teaching of technology from our students would be an awful mistake. Technology is the future and or students need to be prepared for life. I am an elementary school teacher and I would like to think I use technology effectively in my classroom. I believe that if I were a high school teacher there may be more ways of using technology on a first hand basis for my students. Currently I use technology as source of experiences, field trips, research, assisting special needs students, and much more. Technology helps me teach to the variety of learning styles in my classroom as well as the different backgrounds. As much as I love the technology I have I would never use it to the exclusiion of print materials. In the elementary classroom it is in my opinion important to expose my children to technology but also provide a print rich environment.

St. Garfield Hall's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Technology Integration - Deal or no Deal.

If ten students were chosen at random, and were filmed without their awareness, to provide data on how they use a given 24 hour period, the findings would be rather interesting. After sleep time is taken out, which may be 20% to 30%, the remaining 70% to 80% will constitute students daily activities including schooling.

These students will: spend time on their cellular phones and on their computers; listen to their iPods; watch a favorite TV Program, spend hours on their Play station and Nintendo games. For the formal educational time, they are expected to exclude all these technological implements and concentrate on their learning, which may not involve any of the items listed above.

(Kottler, J., Zehm & Kottler, E. 2005) suggested that effective learning occurs when teachers make the experience as dynamic and relevant as possible. School districts' rules must be changed to facilitate the use of these technological gadgets by both students and teachers in the classroom. It is my view that students will be, once again, more engaged and the learning environment be a place where they want to be and want to learn.

Technology integration in the classroom is necessary to relate schooling to students' out of school experiences. This is the deal in curriculum development.

TMartin's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

As a teacher of math and communication arts I agree that the "way we used to do things" is just as important as the way we do things now with new technologies. As new technologies become available in the classroom we have to be careful of what we use and how we use it. If we try to convert without much thought or half way thinking, technology can blow up in our faces. The idea of technology is exciting, fun and new for many teachers. The downfall to the exciting, fun and new is the challenge of integrating the technology properly. Before integrating a new technology, teachers must ask themselves; Does this technology benefit both student and teacher? Is the new technology user friendly? Student friendly? How effective can I be using this new technology? I feel these questions should be asked of any new lesson or resource in my classroom. With proper training and implementation technologies can open new worlds for our students. I think that combining the old and new make for the best possible environment for learning. Students are curious about the past as well as the future.

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.

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