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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
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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

Comments (390) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Justina's picture

I am a firm believer that technology should be an integral part of education. I am a Pre-K teacher in NC working in a classroom that is licensed as a NC Pre-K class. There are certain requirements we must follow to ensure we are teaching developmentally appropriate material to our students. I find it strange that we are frowned upon when we allow our students the opportunity to experiment with technology. One of the Pre-K classrooms at my school recently went through ECERS and the teacher received negative marks because she allowed the students to use the SmartBoard too long. She was informed that the students should only be allowed to use technology for 15 minutes for a week. I thought this was absurd. We live in a technology-driven world and failing to incorporate a substantial part of technology in our classroom is a disservice to our students. I would much rather receive negative markings than to fail to ensure my students are learning about and experimenting with technology.

iqbal's picture
IB Biology Teacher, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

I believe that technology is the only way to engage and interact with our students of 21st century. students spend hours and hours on their tabs and mobile phones. if we could integrate these as tools for teaching and learning in an effective way then definitely we would be able to get better results. but the big question is how these gadgets and devises can be used to deliver curriculum. as in one of the comments above it is mentioned that there should be a person in school who should give direction to the teachers and students about the proper and authentic use of tech tools.

Paul Swanson's picture
Paul Swanson
MSHS Tech Coordinator at UNIS Hanoi

Many of these comments talk about the need for "a person in school who should give direction to the teachers and students about the proper and authentic use of tech tools." That's my current job at the United Nations International School of Hanoi; I'm the MSHS Tech Coordinator.

It's not quite it.

Imagine if, 100 years ago, we were talking about the need for specialists in the classrooms to give direction to teachers and students about using slates. The slate was and is a tool, just like an iPad or a computer. The point is not just to teach how to use tools properly (although that is a part of it). 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.

As far as I can figure it, the median pedagogy in schools around the world is about 50 years behind the current state pedagogic possibility afforded by today's technologies. It's not too hard to show teachers the best apps or how to use new Google tools, but much harder to update habits from a lifetime.

TW Williamson's picture
TW Williamson
MYP and IB English Teacher

Effective technology integration develops the very important, but too often overlooked, learner-to-learner model. Teachers can embrace how students learn from and with each other through collaboration in authentic learning experiences that are right at their fingertips when lessons integrate technology. Teachers who search and research alongside their students embody the true spirit of intellectual inquiry - role models of lifelong learning. Teachers who collaborate with students show the cooperative, empowering, and rewarding side of discovery as partners, rather than directors.

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"?

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