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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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John House's picture

When the article talks about the "four key components of learning" which it expects technology integration to support, I think it provides a good framework for evaluating the use of technology in the classroom. It's a framework that is holistic and looks not just at gadgets, but at the way in which the school presents the use of technology and the relationship of technology to the student in everyday life. However, I find that when we look at case studies, the focus switches heavily to data collection and presentation tools that are both expensive to maintain and quickly outdated ("student" versions of scientific tools that might momentarily satisfy the "active engagement" component of the framework but which require a significant investment of money as well as classroom training time).

Jennifer Melton's picture

I believe that teachers need to do what they can to have as much technology in the classroom to keep the students involved, creating challenges for the students and keeping the classroom up to date with the technology in the world. Technology is changing at a fast rate, and it is our responsiblity as educators to learn what we can with technology to keep it current in our classroom. Our purpose as teachers to prepare students to be positive contributors to the society. We need to keep our instruction up to date to help the students meet the challenges of today. Technology allows us to teach to the diverse learning styles, and help students stay involved in their own learning. We need to make sure that the technology we use is relevant to our subject matter and to the students.

Rawan Alsahafi's picture

When I was a teacher, I used technology in my teaching. I usually had ten minutes to review what we did in the class because technology saved my time. Aslo, mathematics is a boring subject so it may become a fun subject by using technology. One of my student told me that she liked my way in teaching and she knew that math is not a difficult but she needs to be more active in the class to understand everything.
What I realize after that is technology motivate students to be better and active. Not all students now like to read, but everyone has iphone, ipad..ex. So, using tec would be more relate to the students and they would like that.

JHall's picture

This article makes an excellent point regarding teaching with technology:

[quote]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.[/quote]

What stands out most to me, is the idea of properly integrated technologies allowing a shift in the role of the teacher. Under ideal circumstances, the teacher is able to shift away from being a lecturer or instructor, and become more of a facilitator for student-driven/directed learning.

Betty K's picture
Betty K
Special Educator and mother

After reading this article and watching the video, many thoughts and questions raised in my mind: I thought about how fast the technology moves and changes that anybody can easily become obsolete. The computer program you learned today has to be updated tomorrow.

The concept of a good teacher has always implied the ability of the professor to understand the students' needs and to accomodate his/her teachings to these needs. Using creativity and different means are important to guide the student to gain knowledge and the skills to apply this knowledge in real life problems. But also, a good teacher should be open to learn new ways to accomodate to his/her students needs, and this includes the learning of the use of technology in the educative practices. The final product of a good teacher and the appropriate use of the technology is better engagemed and, hopefully, better prepared students.

But my question arises when I think on the assuption we all make that we will have technology everywhere we move. Is the new education with technology preparing students to face a problem without technology? We saw some of the pros of using technology in the class, but, what are the cons? I think on the person who studies to become a science teacher using technology, What if he/she teaches in an poor area where technology is not availabe? And when I ask these question I can, myself, start thinking in some answers, but i would like to hear what others think.

Kim Roselli's picture
Kim Roselli
Graduate Student - Instructional Technology

I tend to agree with this article. Technology is everywhere and we need to modernize our schools to include it into the curriculum. I do not mean typing worksheets on Word documents. I believe that the teacher/instructor should be a facilitator in the classroom; leading them down the path. But allowing students to work in collaborative groups and have freedom to explore concepts. I cannot help but wonder when America's educational system is going to get on the ball. We are already behind other countries who are embracing globalization. We need to do better to help prepare our students for their future.

Magdalene's picture

After watching the video and reading the articles I realized that if we as educators do not include technology in our lessons we do our students and our self's (teachers) a big disservice. This is because when we incorporate technology in our lessons our students become active participants of the lesson, stay on task which reduces behavioral problems and connect to the real world experiences. We as teachers become coaches and facilitators.

Maria Hall's picture

Now a day's many kinds of technology was developed. Students are teaching and learning education with technology like computer then they will knowledgeable of all kinds. Maximum countries are including technology in school program but so few countries are not included that. I request for that countries please do this program because its future of student.
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Emily's picture

In a classroom full of technology, it will definitely change the dynamics of teaching. For example, I currently use the iPad within my classroom when I am teaching. I am able to walk freely around the classroom while filling in notes via the iPad. I can have students participate by allowing them to use my iPad to complete "Check for Understanding" problems. I can interact with my classroom and not be tied to the front of the classroom. I think the role of a teacher teaching in the classroom will change. For example, the use of the word "coach" definitely brings forth a new meaning. I also think the role of facilitator is also true because as I am able to float freely around the classroom, I can be among a group of students or a pair of students who are cooperatively working together. I am able to give guiding questions to help them in the learning process.

Being willing to know how to effectively use the technology is key. Help out colleagues if they don't understand... show them something new too! I feel like I am learning something new every day with technology in my classroom!

C. Johnson's picture
C. Johnson
Grade 5 teacher

As you noted, technology pervades our everyday lives and so we must equip our students with the tools that are necessary to become productive citizens in a technological age. We, as educators, must evaluate our use of technology to move beyond using technology for its novelty, and look for its added value in the classroom. There are tools available that are transforming teaching and learning. You mentioned, "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." I fully agree with that. Any teacher who has ever used the PhET simulations from the University of Colorado at Boulder would agree with this as well. Simulations such as these are providing a new layer of understanding and enrichment for students in the science classroom.

Thanks for your post.

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