Every classroom at Forest Lake Elementary in South Carolina is furnished with a variety of tech tools to enrich lessons (left). Student Matthew participates in a Webquest in the school's multimedia lab (right). Learn more about this school.
Credit: Grace Rubenstein
What Is Successful Technology Integration?
A key transition over the history of information technology has been in the shift from passive audiences to active users. Digital technologies permit users unprecedented control over the content they consume and the place in and pace at which they consume it. At the heart of effective technology integration practices, digital technologies offer learners greater opportunities to be more actively involved in the learning experience.
One theme that has emerged from the research to date is that simply adding technology to K-12 environments does not necessarily improve learning. Rather, what matters most is how students and teachers use technology to develop knowledge and skills. Successful technology integration for learning generally goes hand in hand with changes in teacher training, curricula, and assessment practices (Zucker and Light, 2009; Bebell and O'Dwyer, 2010; Innovative Teaching and Learning Research, 2011). Edutopia's review of the literature also finds that successful technology integration generally involves three key principles:
Students playing an active role in their learning and receiving frequent, personalized feedback
Students critically analyzing and actively creating media messages
Teachers connecting classroom activities to the world outside the classroom
In the next section, we will look at research on technology integration practices that improve K-12 learning and will highlight specific tools.