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

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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.

Arthur T.'s picture
Arthur T.
Connecting Technology with Learning and Teaching

I agree with you. The way technology is developing it will be in our interest to make use of it in very possible way. Today's expensive technology may turn not so unaffordable in near future. I admit that not all of us can afford expensive gadgets but I am sure we can find a way out if we really want. Talking about iPads now students can even attend online classes on it anywhere, anytime they want by using simple apps . I am sure in near future online education will occupy the education scene in a big way.

Pamela's picture

I believe that technology should be integrated into the curriculum, but I also believe that we shouldn't use technology just for the sake of using technology. Sometimes, I find myself asking, "Is using this technological device actually enhancing my students' learning? Or am I using this tech just to use it?" I also love the project learning approach, but I believe that projects need to be appropriately scaffolded for many of our students :)

Shanna Moquin's picture

Being a High School Special Education teacher I am constantly looking for new ways to help my kids connect to school. In this day in age, technology is everywhere, and all my students are using it in one way or another. Almost all of my students have phones, tablets, a computer etc. For too long I feel like many teachers were fighting this technological shift and many still are. As technology was changing society, the classrooms were staying the same. We were seeing technology as something working against us rather than something we could use to our advantage. After whole heartedly accepting technology into my classroom, life for both me and my students has become much better. My shy students are able to participate in a way they have never been able to before, and my students who struggle with writing are able to express themselves in a new way. There are definitely challenges when it comes to technology, but having an open mind about it has been so helpful. I hope more teachers are able to see the advantages of technology as time goes on and the positive affect it can have on both them and their students.

Linda's Kinders's picture

I like this statement, "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 enjoy integrating the internet with my children's learning by broadening their learning through digital information that can be far more current to our curriculum and textbooks.

Laura's picture

It's the days that our campus wifi stops working that I realize just how technologically integrated and tech-dependent we've become. There is really no debate about the necessity of integration. The issue is how to continue to evolve our use of technology in the classroom.

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