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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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Brad Edwards's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

You wrote, "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."

It's been my experience that information technology is often a daunting area for most teachers. Why? Because no one teacher can learn all there is about a software program used for integration. Look at the thick, 500 page reference books in bookstore chains on the software being used in schools. As teachers have been traditionally been the containers of all information in the classroom save the encyclopedia and library contents, it's pretty unsettling to have an administrator observe when the teacher responds, "I don't know" to a question about the software the class is using. I'd often fake it, and say, "That's a good question, Johnny, who can tell us the answer?" Chances were, there was at least one hand that shot up that told us what to do; and that empowered the student while the experience empowered the class as having some control and understanding about what they were doing. This made the teacher the facilitator, a new role brought about mostly by technology integration. I still see this today in my classes in central Maine as I did in Vermont, and I see the discomfort still in the posture of many teachers who come into the lab as I ask them to be the voice in the lab.


Leigh Threatt's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree that "the way we used to do it" is still necessary for students to appreciate the way things have come about now. Just as we had to learn the hard-way to do it in math before we were taught the more advanced, shorter way to do it two chapters later. I do think, however, that a classroom without any technology can never compete with an up-to-date, technology loaded classroom. As a science teacher, the possibilities for lab equipment are almost endless. The students watch all these crime dramas on TV and they see what kinds of technology are used (even if they can be a little far-fetched sometimes.) Using that kind of technology in the classroom shows them that its not all fun and games in the lab and that the results have meaning. They actually have data to study and make conclusions about. Vernier makes wonderful equipment for science labs. This year I have a Promethean board in my classroom. I also received a set of sensors from Vernier. I was able to demonstrate several labs on the big screen for all to see so that we could discuss the results as well as what the shape of the graph means. When you have 28 to 32 kids in a classroom, it is difficult to instruct them as to how to read data but the technology I have really enabled me to reach more students! Some kids who never said a word in class really enjoyed the labs we did and the demos I shared and they made comments and were enthusiastic about what they learned.
In short, I believe that we must evaluate and choose technology based on how we can reach more students effectively and efficiently.

DR's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Let's face it.... technology is taking over everything! Who would have thought one could earn a degree online? Not just any degree, but a PHd as well.
We are constantly emerging into the century. Human being are being replaced by technology all the time. Are there really such things as telephone operators? How many times have you dialed a number to speak to an automated recording? How many times have you received automated calls?
Our children need technology in the classroom now because pretty soon technology will be "the teachers" in the classroom. :)
We need to educate our children and teach them as soon as possible.

Donna Schwartz's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I have found that integrating technology in the classroom has given my students the opportunity to travel to other places and times, and thus has helped in their understanding of literature. For example, they have been to Holland to visit the museum of Anne Frank, art museums in London, and costumes of the Renaissance. Using technology enables them to gather current research and information to better be able to understand different countries and events in history. The pictures and tours of museums help them to see the world that they may not be able to see. Researching costumes for the reading of Romeo and Juliet add a depth in the understanding of culture. Adding technology to the classroom benefits students and expands their present world. This empowers them as learners and future leaders.

Helen Parker's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Our school has been fortunate enough to receive Smart boards for every classroom.
I recently spent time in the kindergarten room and realized there is no longer a calendar posted, no numbers chart, no birthday or weather graphs, and why, because everything is contained in a neat little folder on the teacher's laptop that can be pulled up and placed on the Smart board each morning during calendar time.
The students can no longer look around the room to reflect on the morning activities. There is no reference point for the date or job charts. And what happens when the substitute cannot find the proper folders on the computer? I guess the class goes without.
Let's be "smart" about what we take away in the classroom as we implement new technology.

T.L.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I believe that an educator should integrate technology.
What does every child have in their home? The majority of students have some type of game system and most of them have more than one type including the hand held.
If you want to keep a young student's attention, then you need to intergrate technology in your lessons.
Also, after reading some articles on brain research and autism, including technology is one way information can go into the child's memory. It's just one more intervention I can use for reading and math.

Teresa's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I believe that we should integrate technology. It should be an addition to a lesson, not the only lesson. Sometimes the internet is offline or the SMART Board stops working. The school I work in added a SMART Board to every classroom. Our technology people were not trained on how to install and there is always something happening. I use my SMART Board for activities and lessons, but I always have a back up plan. I use it for writing, but keep dry-erase markers and chart paper nereby. If the internet doesn't work and we can not play a game, then I switch to floor game.
I never put SMART Board activities in sub lesson plans. Most of the subs have not been trained to use them and not very comfortable with them.
Using the SMART Board does keep the students attention and they love using it. With the fast pace society, we as educators need to keep up with the latest and use it to our advantage. One teacher uses LEAPSTERS in her centers. It's like a handheld game, but they learn from it. Anything to encourage learning, I would use in my classroom.

A P's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I do believe that integrating technology in the classroom is important. At my school our morning annoucements are presented by way of the "KMS Morning Show" on TV. It's a show broacasted throughout the school and is produced by the students for the entire school including teachers. With the rapid pace in which technology changes, it makes it more difficult for teachers to keep up. Our schools would benefit from consistent technology workshops in order for all teachers to become comfortable in using technology.

Devon Scrogham's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Have your students ever gotten onto a specified website, listened for directions, and when they started to complete a task something went wrong? What do you do?

I think that technology definately should be used to ENHANCE learning when it is appropriate, but teaching should not revolve around technology; Technology should be incorportated into instruction.

In the scenario listed above, a teacher must have a back-up plan for when technology goes bad. Therefore, teaching cannot always revolve around it (technology).

There are so many opportunities for students in using technology. For example, next year my goal is to have my students create a DVD for incoming students to mail to them before transferring to Heritage so they can understand and see for themselves what our school is all about. Students also enjoy interactive math, reading, and science games and they enjoy watching United Streaming videos, which are all FREE! Why not use these resources when we have them right in front of us? But we should use this technology to ENHANCE a lesson, not to lead a lesson.

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.

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