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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
Editor / Writer
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Student looking through a camera with his teacher looking on.
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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Leslie's picture

Research shows that students preform well with classroom settings with and without technology. In South Korean classrooms students learn English with a life like robot and their test scores and student achievement is ranked higher than the United States. The additional technological distractions like cellphones and iPods are required to be left at the door, minimizing a possibility of cheating and distraction. Students can do very well without the introduction of technology into the classroom. Classrooms in Finland use chalk boards and overhead projectors to teach and in 2006 they were ranked 1st in science and math out of the 30 OECD countries. It is possible to teach a classroom without any technology and for the students to succeed.
With the technology that is accessible to students like smart phones and the Internet, it provides an additional form and possibility to cheat. A student could take a picture of his or her work and send it to another student. If a student did not know the answer to a question the student could simply look up the exact same question and get the answer online. Student's overall problem solving abilities are lower with these easy ways to get the answers. Some teachers do not want to see technology in the classroom because the student gets so much of that at home and everywhere else.
Online learning is a great advancement that resulted from technology in classrooms. Teachers can reach any length of distance as long as one has internet access. Working adults can get degrees on their own time. Teachers can post their lesson and students can go back over it to help with understanding. The internet and other learning programs can be an additional tutor for a student that is falling behind. The computer does not have a time limit where a teacher does. The student can go over something as many times as needed until he or she understands. E-books are also an effective way to get textbooks and learning material into the classroom. With a simple upgrade the newest form of the textbook can be shown instead of using millions of pages of paper to get a new classroom set of textbooks each year.

Christie's picture

I agree that technology in the classroom must be integrated throughout and not simply in the computer lab. There are several resources that are available for cross curricular and using them is the base of 21st century skills that our students need. Another person on these comments mentioned the date of this posting, 2008. I also was taken back by the date, it seems 2008 was so long ago and there are far more resources today than there were 7 years ago. I think no matter the project or type of skill/strategy you are implementing in the classroom there is a technology resource that can be found for it.

qaiserjehan's picture

I agree that making use of technology in classrooms should be increased rather than using as a single subject. Integration of technology is very important these days as it makes students understand much easily than previous studying techniques. We are living in a changing environment where people are making extensive use of technology and this technology should be implemented in classrooms as well. Technology is easily accessible and resources are available to use them in classroom and use it according to the situation.

abigail_pollak's picture
Marketing Assistant

Using a computer, tablet, or other device encourages self-directed learning and creates an active participant in the learning process, rather than the passive learners found in a lecture environment. Interactive lesson plans can help turn "boring" conceptual subjects like math into fun, engaging, and educational activities for students.

magalibrutel's picture

What I like in this article :
It was written in 2008, 8 years later it's still very up-to-date.
I like the fact that it highlights the enhancement of the relationship between teacher and student.
And I agree that technology helps make teaching and learning more meaningful and fun

meganholbrook22's picture

I agree with you, when you said, "The point is to help teachers find news ways of fostering learning, both in and out of the classroom. Sometimes these innovations are about tech tools, but often they are more about pedagogy than technology." The pedagogy needs to shift, or else we are simply replacing pencils and paper with devices.

In my opinion one of the best benefits from technology integration is the ability to connect with experts and other learners. Teachers no longer have to teach the content, but rather can allow students to seek out the "teacher" and experience it first hand alongside an expert or peers. It is about unleashing possibilities and forming connections, both relationally and conceptually.

The question is, how do we "update habits from a lifetime"?

G. Johnson's picture

I agree that is important to not only teach teachers how to use tools properly, but also to encourage and provide opportunities for teachers to find new ways to encourage learning. With you being a Tech Coordinator, how do you suggest a school go about educating their teachers about technology tools?

Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

There are tons of options!
- Regular blog/email posts about tools
- Demonstrations at staff meetings
- Appy Hours/Petting Zoos (set up a whole bunch of devices with a variety of software at a designated time and let people explore)
- In-depth workshops
- One on one conversations with teachers about their needs
- Demo apps to students
- Student help desks
- Modeling good instruction with technology at every opportunity

Martin Diaz Alvarez's picture
Martin Diaz Alvarez
Business Consultant

Using technologies like virtual lesson plans and internet resources can help free up time -- both in developing and delivering curriculum. This allows teachers to spend more time with the students who are struggling, ensuring the whole class is better prepared for tests and advancement.

G. Johnson's picture

I really enjoy your idea of a "petting zoo." It would be a wonderful way to explore many different tools. This would be a great PD idea! Thank you.

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