Integrating technology into classroom instruction in Elementary grades: "Is It A Cure All?" by Leanne Anderson Technology has definitely left its mark touching almost every part of our lives, and has continues to grow with great advances. The educational forefront has been trying to harness its potential as the cure-all for some of the many gaps and failures that has been plaguing its efforts. Despite the many praises that have been given to technology, some schools are still clinging on to the traditional ways, while others are hopping on this fast tract to integrating technology into classroom learning. Technology if used properly will help students acquire the skills needed to survive in this global effect that technology is quickly enhancing and changing with each new gadget or idea. In this complex world we have to equip our children well enough to compete globally; they will either stay afloat or drown. Spending has increased tremendously in the efforts to get technology in the classrooms, however, the many barriers and issues that many paralyze its success are being overlooked. Having the tools and not knowing how to use it defeats the purpose. Teachers having the technology in the classroom is not all. " If our children are to excel in a fast-changing, global society, we must harness the technology resources they need to function in a digital age. We must remember our commitment to their future as we set priorities and establish policies on their behalf." —NEA President Dennis Van Roekel My Conclusion on the issue based on a small research of 25 elementary aged students from an afterschool setting focus group, and 10 teachers from various schools: As strides are continuously being made to infuse technology into classrooms, the access to computer based technology increases, more in some areas than others. Survey collected from 25 students and 10 teachers from the Brooklyn districts were analyzed to examine the extent to which technology was used in the classroom, how much professional development teachers received towards the instructional process, how teachers felt about the change, and students perceptions on the matter. into schools and into the instructional process. The research shows evidence that teachers generally use technology more for preparation and communication than for teaching the lesson itself. In addition, almost 50% of the teachers said that they used it for assigning learning activities . I found that out of the 10 teachers, 6 were relatively new to the job/career and relied heavily on technology. They stated that their recent training in grade school contributed to their heavy use/reliance on technology to teach the lessons, and to find interesting and engaging activities for their students. "We couldn't imagine teaching without technology," was a common response among those 6 teachers. The remaining 4 teachers didn't really mind using or not using technology. Out of the remaining 4 teachers, half mentioned that they preferred the traditional way. They stressed that it was way too much work to get the lessons prepared when using technology. One common response when asked for challenges faced using technology in the classroom was linked to time management and keeping the students focused and on task. 100% of the teachers also shared their concerns for professional development for integrating technology into their curriculum and to actually know how to use the technology itself. They were concerned that not enough resources is being allocated for these reasons, and for that many of their colleagues don't even attempt to use it or are afraid to use it. The students responses seem to echo each other. Most of the students enjoyed using technology, however they stated that sometimes "it is a drag" using any form of technology in the classroom because some teachers don't know what they are doing. Other students expressed that although they love using technology especially the computer, sometimes it is hard to stay focused when other students are deviating form assignment given, and surfing the internet. I must admit that the students were very aware of the endless possibilities that technology provides both in the classroom and in life. They expressed the importance of knowing how to use the technology, and being able to use it not only in a school setting but also at home or for personal reasons. Below is a chart of the Negative and Positive responses that both teachers and students gave concerning the integration of technology in classroom instruction: Teacher Responses Important uses of technology: Motivating Students Research and lesson planning Real world problem-solving in subject areas like math and science VFT Multimedia for creating presentations Activities for skill reinforcements Obstacles and reasons for not using Technology: Lack of hardware (examples; computers, smart boards) Lack of software (specific programs for specific skill building) Time Consuming Lack of staff development Tradition Verses Change Classroom management (staying on task) Reasons for using Technology: Makes lesson more efficient Very interactive and motivating Expands both the time and place for learning Gives a better understanding and wider range of expression Provides a platform for whole class discussions with less hassle More cost effective in the classroom ( less photocopies and books) Provide many tools for differentiated instructions to cater for different needs and learning styles Collaboration (students can work with other students in a group, or all over the world) Students Response Important uses of technology: Computer Games and activities for skill building Multimedia for project presentations Research Writing and publishing work VFT Personal reasons Obstacles and reasons for not using Technology: Not comfortable with it Takes away from the lesson (sometimes not needed for lesson) Waste time It may be a distraction Teachers don't know how to use it I don't know how to use it Reasons for using Technology: Fun to work with Makes lesson more interesting Keeping up with changes like other schools around the world Can visit places we can't afford to visit Learn beyond the classroom Can take part in activities that will help build our skills Motivates us in learning more and wanting to do more Resources National Education Association – American Federation of Teachers (NEA-AFT). 2008. Access, Adequacy and Equity in Education Technology: Results of a Survey of America’s Teachers and Support Professionals on Technology in Public Schools and Classrooms. Washington, DC: Author, www.nea.org/research/images/08gainsandgapsedtech.pdf.
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