The Impact of Technology 1
THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION
Technology in the classroom has improved academic achievement in students,
encouraged higher-level thinking, increased motivation, assisted teachers in classroom and
academic organization, and improved assessment and evaluation. This synthesis paper
represents my own thoughts using relevant sources to show how technology has impacted
education. The introduction of technology into our classrooms has changed the ways that we
think, teach, and learn. The following synthesis will discuss the major areas of education that
have been the most impacted by technology and examples will be given.
Erin C. Markus
Boise State University
Educational Technology 501
The Impact of Technology 2
The Impact of Technology in the Education
Technology has greatly impacted the educational system, including teaching and
learning. We have witnessed some of the most amazing breakthroughs in the history of the
world. These breakthroughs are the computer and the internet. The internet has opened doors to
places we never thought we would go or see. Introducing the computer age and the internet into
the classroom is empowering our children to become worldly thinkers and to see the world in a
more analytical point of view. Bringing technology into the classroom has improved academic
success in students in many ways. Success is not only at the student level, but also at the teacher
level. Computers have assisted teachers in many ways, such as organization, grading, and
communication. In this paper, these topics will be addressed using examples from research
studies and journals. Computers have impacted our entire educational system, and the proof is in
Technology in the classroom has improved academic achievement. One way that
achievement has been reached is because of the impact of student collaboration. Students
working together and utilizing technology can improve teaming and group research capabilities.
Technology applications that enable student collaboration tend to result in improved
achievement. According to Scardamalia and Bereiter (1996):
In one study, upper-grade elementary students used a software collaboration tool called
Computer Supported Intentional Learning Environment (CSILE) that enables students
and teachers to create and post text and graphics to ask questions, search for other
students' answers, give feedback on student responses and work and then reformulate
their initial answers and questions. These students performed better on standardized tests
in reading, language and vocabulary and on measures of depth of understanding, multiple
perspectives and independent thought than students who did not use the software.
Students utilizing e-mail and other networks within their school or classroom to
communicate with each other and their teachers can be a useful tool. It is not always possible for
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groups to get together to meet, so using the internet for messaging and communication is
another way to work as a group without sitting at a table together when this is not possible. A
great example of this kind of collaboration is shown in a fourth and fifth grade science project. In
a research study reported by Kafai and Ching (2001):
Fourth and fifth grade students were divided into teams of four or five for a 10-week
project designing a lesson for teaching third graders about the brain. Science discussions
that led fourth and fifth grade students to reformulate the academic content at higher
levels also enabled them to:
focus on the design of software screens
choose their research question within the confines of the science subject
choose the software screens to design
choose the methods for conducting their research for teaching third
graders about the brain
Students who were experienced with collaborative software design tools provided better
learning opportunities for their peers who were newcomers to the software. Their
extensive questioning functioned as a way for their teams to bootstrap up to the next level
of engagement. The combination of whole-classroom science activities with more
individualized research questions allowed both for content coverage as well as for
activities that were intellectually and socially meaningful to individuals.
In this assignment, it is obvious that the students had to work together, but they also had
their individual assignments for research that challenged their abilities and then brought the
results together as a group project. Having individual research items helped each person to gain
a thorough understanding of their content area, add it to the entire project, and in turn, learn what
others brought to the project. Case studies conducted at nine school sites (urban, suburban, and
rural) suggest that technology can support student learning through collaborative inquiry.
Technology provides realistic, complex environments by furnishing investigative tools and data
resources and by linking classrooms for joint investigations (Means & Olson, 1997).
Collaboration is so important in the classroom and it is a great tool for students to learn
before heading into their professional lives where they will have to work collaboratively in
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whatever field they go in to. Software tools that promote student collaboration also promote
"higher level" discussions (Kafai & Ching, 2001). Higher-order thinking skills have improved
with home and school access to computers. Coley et al. (1997) and Rockman and Sloan (1995)
reported on students with home computers:
Students who were supplied home computers and modem access to the school were
compared with students who didn't have this equipment. The students with home
computers and modem access to school realized:
an increase in all writing skills
better understanding and broader view of math
greater problem-solving and critical thinking skills
ability to teach others
greater self-confidence and self-esteem, and more confidence with
Using educational games and simulations has been a useful tool for educators when
teaching complex subjects. Some students need to experience an activity rather than listen to a
lecture in order to understand what is being taught. Using the computer for simulations gives
them the hands-on learning that they need. Eighth grade students whose teachers effectively
used technology for 'simulations and applications' to enhance higher-order thinking skills
performed better on the National Assessment of Education Progress test than did students whose
teachers did not use the technology. Students whose teachers used the technology primarily for
“drill and practice” (generally associated with lower order thinking skills) performed worse on
the NAEP (Wenglinsky, 1998). Studies have been done where technology has been used for
academic activities and they were compared to lessons completed without using technology as an
aid. The results show in most studies that the use of technology promoted higher-level task
completion, using more broad thinking and creativity. For example, in comparing task-based
education conducted with computers to similar tasks taught without computers, researchers
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found an increase in experimental risk-taking and self-regulation by students as well as a higher
level of conceptualization of the task in the computer-based environment. This study also found
an increase in both factual information exchanges and task conceptualization interactions
between teachers and students when teaching occurred across computers (Karasivvidis, 2004).
When students are being successful and completing tasks with a high-regard to learning and
conceptualization, it is evident that motivation to learn more and do better will be obtained by
the student. When a student feels success, they want more. This is a fact. Using computers and
online tools, students are exposed to so much information and they are eager to learn more about
their topics. On top of this, collaboration with other students using technology, as stated before,
encourages them to work harder and be more successful in school. Student motivation is
enhanced in projects that require online collaboration. Student motivation is enhanced through
online collaborative research that includes online communication with peers and experts in other
states and countries (Means et al., 1997).
Another facet of technology that is highly motivational to students is the use of
multimedia. Because our world today is so multimedia based, kids tend to thrive for this kind of
academic delivery. Multimedia projects motivate students. Students and teachers reported a
positive change in student motivation for class assignments when the use of multimedia was
incorporated into classroom instruction. Improved student motivation was the most frequently
cited change by all the teachers (Cradler & Cradler, 1999). The bottom line is that kids love
multimedia. The kids of today have grown up on it and know nothing but television, DVD’s,
and computers. Most of them have even been born since the onset of the internet. The
multimedia of the future is going to be pinnacle to our children’s education, but the impact can
already be felt today.
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The use of computer games and simulations has greatly impacted the educational scene.
Bringing this technology into the classroom gives the children a true hands-on experience and
can cater to those that are visual or kinesthetic learners. Simulations and computer games have
been around a long time, such as the original school game Oregon Trail, which most of us born
in the 70’s remember. The games now are fully interactive, even using computer-generated
likenesses of the students called Avatars. Based on an extensive literature review, (Means et al.,
1993) concluded that real-world simulation software programs tend to be highly motivating for
students, increase student productivity, and promote the acquisition of advanced skills and
knowledge. Means et al. also found that simulation software provides external meaning and
context for learning activities, fosters student-centered learning environments, and promotes
student-student and student-teacher collaborative learning. Not only are kids learning at young
ages to use computers, but they are also becoming familiar with the programming of computers.
Programming games are a medium for personal and creative expression. A study of students
designing games for younger students to learn mathematics (Kafai, 1996) found that learning
about technology and programming supports other types of learning. This is probably one of the
greatest educational impacts that computer education has had in recent years. Kids are learning
to do what people with a college education used to do. The software available today has made
learning programming fun and interactive.
We have seen students being positively impacted by technology in the classroom, but
what about the teachers? Evidence shows that teachers are greatly benefiting by technologies,
not only for using as a teaching tool, but for their own use for organization, grading, and
planning. Organization is essential for a teacher to be successful. The use of computers and
other technological devices has made this much easier. Teachers can use databases, grade books,
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and calendars all on their computer. This greatly cuts down on the mess that can accumulate in a
teacher’s classroom, leading to a more organized work and teaching space. Technology brings
about changes in classroom organization and the role the teacher plays; providing teachers with
the tools they need to negotiate these changes is crucial to their success (Muir-Herzic, 2004).
While organization is very important to a teacher, evaluation is another one of a teacher’s duties
that has also been greatly enhanced since the onset of technology in the classroom.
Assessment and Evaluation of student work can be an extensive and tedious job for all
teachers. Computers have made this part of education more organized and efficient. Digital
tools provide a means for teachers to efficiently and routinely use open-ended response and
performance assessments that were previously too cumbersome to score in an efficient manner
(Fletcher, 2002). Assessment at the lower grades still is usually a paper and pencil task, but
recording and calculating grades has been enhanced by using computer grading programs, such
as InteGrade Pro. These programs basically package all inputted grades and produce several
different types of grade reports for students, parents, or administration. Having this information
readily on hand speeds up the end of term process and can aid in developmental plans by
shortening the time of information gathering. At the higher educational levels, computers are
used for test taking, grading, and evaluation. As stated in the study by Fletcher, grading open-
ended response questions has been easier for scoring and more feedback can be obtained from
the student to the teacher or vice versa. Overall, there has been a great impact of technology in
the classroom for teachers and administrators.
In conclusion, technology is here. It is becoming a mainstay of our society and has now
integrated into the educational system with very positive results. The future of our children is
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going to be dominated by so much technology that we cannot even begin to imagine what they
will see and experience. There is no doubt that technology has had an incredible impact on
education. There is no telling what will be next.
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