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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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AnneBeuerlein's picture

Children these days grow up with technology constantly in their face since birth. By six months, a child can already recognize brands and many show delight at certain tv shows they've seen on tv. I personally know a two year old who can do things on my phone that I would not even think the phone was capable of. This generation only knows technology, books and newspapers are a thing of the past for them. If you want these kids to learn, you have to teach them with things they already understand. You cannot undo their love and understanding of technology by teaching without it, so, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Michelle Kelley's picture

As an elementary education major, I am learning more and more new ways of teaching students in the classroom using technology. I graduated high school in 2007 and as a teacher aid, I remember the students using a smart board, but very little. Today, I hear about teachers incorporating so many different types of technology into learning. Technology is growing faster and faster these days and is getting very popular with among students and the younger generation.

As the article stated, I think it is important as teachers or future teachers we use different media types to connect with different types of learners. Using technology can enhance students' learning. Students are excited about being able to use technology and therefore are more apt to learn.

Alex's picture

I do believe that integrating technology in teaching everyday helps the average student stay engaged. I have noticed through my years of schooling that in one way or another, students are always "wired", may it be through their texts on their phones or jamming with their headphones. However, integrating stuff they already use through the day for a more productive use, will cause them to become more engaged, which means more productive in school work and in turn raises their grades because they are interested in their work.
I also believe that along with keeping students interested, it is important to use it because it's important to keep up to date. Many companies are fast tracked and going paperless everyday, having such habits is a good thing to learn younger so it doesn't hit you between the eyes later in life.

-Alex Follin

Steve Gewinner's picture

In a world where students' minds are ripe for new technologies, districts must invest in teacher training. Technologies that are intuitive for younger fluid intelligences aren't necessarily easy for everybody.

McKenzi's picture

I believe is is becoming more important than ever for teachers to educate themselves on how to effectively use technology in the classroom. I agree that by integrating technology students can learn at a high level of the cognitive process and therefore more likely to understand a concept and retain its meaning. I also think that students are more interested in lessons that are focused around the use of technology and as mentioned the article, on task leads to less behavior problems and a happier classroom overall.

Gavin Selzer's picture

It is absolutely necessary that the successful citizen of the future be technologically-savvy at a very early age - in both use and educational gain from these continually-evolving tools . In this, as in most things, there must be a compromise struck that will enable districts of low means to access the same resources as those of greater means. It is unfortunate that even such a socialized institution as education must continually overcome the inequalities entrenched in capitalism. There are few occupations left that have remained untouched by the hand of technology - even the usual fast food employee uses several varieties of technology that were unheard of or in their infancy 20 years ago.

Ashley Smith's picture
Ashley Smith

I'm a student and I would just like to say that in class rooms, I find that computers and other technologies are not helpful to me and to others. Technology actually distracts students. Students who are supposed to be working on school work are found on FaceBook, games and pretty much anything else that won't bring them any closer to finishing their work. Teachers say that they can keep an eye out for it, but unfortunately, students who are on websites that they are not allowed to be on, check for when the teacher is in their screen's view so they can hide what they are doing. It sounds deceptive, but students try so hard to do what they aren't supposed to be doing as apposed to doing the easy thing and actually

Hsu-Wan Chen's picture

Hello, there:

I'm Hsu-Wan Chen from Taiwan, a graduate school student at National Taiwan Normal University. Currently I'm writing my master thesis which is entitled Applying Social Networking Sites to Teaching and Learning: from Teachers' Perspective. Right now I'm looking for school teachers to be interviewed with their experiences of using social networking sites for educational purpose. If it is so, I would like to have a skype interview with you. Surely I will send you the interview protocol in advance and the interview will take about 20 minutes. Please feel free to contact me at: chenshuwan@gmail.com. I really appreciate your help!

Hsu-Wan Chen

Jean's picture

After viewing a Walden University course video from Laureate Education, Inc., The Emergence of Education (2011), Dr. David Thornburg asserts that "no matter how powerful technology is, if a person does not have the mindset to use it effectively, the only thing that changes is power consumption." After reading the above article, I would like to encourage educators to develop the mindset of integrating technology in the classroom simply because of its benefits to both teachers and students. I understand it could be overwhelming because of the many tools and programs available, but start with something and build from there. Once you feel confident with one thing, move on to another. As stated in the above article--"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" (Edutopia staff).

Kate Uebelherr's picture
Kate Uebelherr
Elementary ICT Teacher at International School of Myanmar

Technology integration is certainly a buzz word that educators use, but perhaps without reflecting on what it is or how, or what the best practices are.

As Ashley Smith, commented previously "the point of view of a student", the technology that teachers are using in the classroom at times becomes a distraction rather than enhancing learning. Students can easily play games or be on their Facebook account, while quickly and easily hiding it from the teacher. I think this happens frequently and is common. I also think that teachers are the same. Perhaps having designated social networking breaks during the day for both students and teachers would be a good way to acknowledge that technology is important to all of use in many parts of our lives. I believe we need to treat our students as we would like to be treated.

The four components of effective technology integration are said here to be "active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts". I think that many time the group work or collaborative elements are lacking in the classroom. Developing processes and routines for feedback are many times not given attention, and for me especially connecting tot he real-world experts, is difficult.

On my journey to become a more effective teacher infusing technology in my classroom, I'm happy to be reflecting and analyzing the areas I need to strengthen and develop. This article defines these four elements nicely, a great addition to my learning.

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