What is Technology Integration?
Technology integration is when teachers design experiences that require students to use
technology as part of their learning activities in ways that make learning more active, collaborative,
constructive, authentic, and engaging.
Definitions for what constitutes effective technology
integration have changed over the last three decades. At one
time, placing computer labs in schools was thought to be a
quick solution for preparing students to use technology.
During these times, teachers largely used their single
classroom computers for administrative tasks and left student
technology training to computer lab teachers. Even when a
classroom had several computers, these machines were often
housed in the back of a room where they collected dust.
Students used computers in isolation from the classroom and
disconnected from the curriculum. It was soon realized that
for technology to be used meaningfully, teachers had to use it
in the classroom and use it with a definite purpose—to
engage students in learning. When this kind of use occurs,
technology becomes just another tool in a teacher’s repertoire
This evolution in “technology integration” presents us with
the substantial need for more effective teacher training, which
has remained a challenge to this day. While there seems to be
consensus that technology should be moved from computer
labs into the classroom, there are still many teachers who have yet to adopt the use of technology.
Undoubtedly, adding technology to the already complex task of teaching will not be accomplished
quickly but the rewards can be tremendous.
Why Do Teachers Need to Know How to Use Technology?
Century World and Workplaces – The World is Different
Because the world and workplaces are so different, today’s teachers need to know how to use
technology so they can prepare students for a 21st century world and workplaces that demands
greater skills. The world is much different than just a few decades ago and the demands of the 21st
century workplace have grown exponentially. Due to shifting demographics, the United States
workforce is growing at a slower rate than in the past. Other changes, such as the rapidly increasing
pace of technological change and the expanding economic globalization are making it necessary for
companies to recruit workers outside the U.S. At the same time, Asia and Europe are turning out
significantly more graduates than the U.S. in fields that are critical for economic growth, thus adding
to the competition for jobs (Karoly&Panis, 2004). Just as globalcompetition has increased, there has
been a steady growth in the share of jobs that require higher level 21st century skills and more
“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.”
Edutopia (¶ 2, 2008)
education. 21st century skills include among other things, abstract reasoning, analyzing, problem-
solving, innovating, communicating, and creating. Jobs also call for individuals who have strong
technological abilities, and these are rapidly changing as new technologies become more prevalent.
For example, visual literacy skills are more important as
most of our information is accessed on the visually-rich
Internet. Also, new and powerful modeling software is
used to solve problems in a variety of occupations
requiring spatial literacy, or an awareness and
understanding of how things work in relationship to space.
The rapidity of technological change, which is only expected to accelerate in the future, demands that
we are adaptable, flexible, and ready to learn and relearn as required on the job. It is easy to see how
in a 21st century world there is a greater need than in the past for more workers who are well
educated, have high-levels of skills, are tech savvy, and adaptable.
Century Digital Students – Students are Different
Watch this video:A Vision of K-12 Students Today
Because students today have grown up with technology, they learn differently than in times past.
Many states understand the magnitude of this difference and believe that we must take serious
measures to refocus our schools for 21st century learners. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills
(P21), an advocacy organization whose goal is to define 21st century education to ensure every
child’s success as workers in the 21st century world, has led the initiative to help schools in this
refocusing effort. West Virginia, the second state in the nation to join P21, defined 21st century
learners appropriately and the role teachers will play in educating them.
A 21st century learner is part of a generation that has never known a world without
the Internet, without computers, without video games and without cell phones.
They are digital natives who have grown up with information technology.
To these students, life without digital technologies seems alien. Their aptitudes,
attitudes, expectations and learning styles reflect the stimulating environment in
which they were raised. For most, instant messaging has surpassed the telephone
and e-mail as the primary form of communication. Control, alt, delete is as basic to
them as learning their ABCs and 123s.
Twenty-first century learners are always on, always connected. They are
comfortable multitasking. They sit at the computer, working on their homework
while listening to an iPod. At the same time, they may have 10 different chat
windows open, be playing a video game or surfing the Web while a TV blares in the
background. To them, technology is only a tool that they can customize to access
information and communicate.
“School should be less about
preparation for life and more
like life itself.” John Dewey
Twenty-first century learners are multimedia oriented. Their world is Web-based.
They want instant gratification. They are impatient, creative, expressive and social.
They are risk-takers who thrive in less structured environments.
Constant exposure to digital media has changed not only how these students
process information and learn but how they use information. Children today are
fundamentally different from previous generations in the way they think, access and
absorb information, and communicate in a modern world.
To cross the digital divide and reach these students, teachers must change not only
what they teach, but how they teach. To do so, educators must acknowledge this
digital world and educate themselves about it. To truly understand them, educators
must immerse themselves in the digital landscape where the 21st century learner
lives (West Virginia Department of Education, n.d.).
While some states understand that today’s digital learners are different and departments of
education in these states are proactive about changing their education systems, there are still
reasons to be discouraged about the current state of education. Statistics show that many students in
this generation are not engaged in their learning. Amidst strong global competition, U.S. students
score much lower than many countries on achievement inmathematics, reading, science, analytical
thinking, and problem-solving (OECD, 2010). The current model of education, which was built in the
20th century when individuals obtained their knowledge early in life and used that knowledge for
careers that lasted many years (Karoly&Panis, 2004), is failing 21st century students who are living in
a world of increasing change and greater demands. Students must learn to be lifelong learners,
willing to adapt in a changing world. To add to the dilemma, while this generation is exposed to and
regularly uses a variety of technologies—computers, the Internet, instant messaging, downloading
music, social networking, cell phones, etc. they are significantly deficient in the types of 21st century
technological skills needed in the workplace (Lorenzo &Dziuban, 2006). We are living in critical
times when students need to know how to use 21st century skills that inherently utilize technology.
These concerns are expounded when one considers the narrow conception that our educational
system still has of technology. In most schools, where technology is used only as a means to develop
students’ computer skills in lab settings, meaningful content and learning is separated from the use
of technology. Technology is viewed simply as a set of tools that allows us to function in a digital
world. This perception of technology may be part of the reason that widespread classroom use is not
yet a reality. Despite what many people believe, educators are not widely using technology. In fact,
Vockley (2008, p. 3) noted, “It is shocking and inconceivable—but true—that technology is
marginalized in the complex and vital affairs of education.”Besides this narrow conception, other
obstacles preventing widespread computer use include the scarcity of time for training, few
technology resources, insufficient computer access, inadequate technical or administrative support,
time given to standardized testing, and teachers’ attitudes and beliefs (Hew & Brush, 2007).
This situation is a travesty when research shows that students learn more when engaged in
meaningful, relevant, and intellectually stimulating schoolwork and that the use of technology can
increase the frequency for this type of learning (North Central Regional Educational Laboratory,
2003). Technology provides students with unique opportunities that would be impossible otherwise.
Among other things, students can tap into the knowledge of experts; visualize and analyze data; link
learning to authentic contexts; and participate in electronic, shared reflection (Bransford, Brown, &
Cocking, 1999). For this kind of learning to occur, technology must be made an integral part of
educational operationsjust as it is intheworld of business. When this happens, teachers can offer a
more rigorous, creative, relevant, and engaging curriculum where students must developand practice
Century Teacher Preparation – Teaching Should be Different
Because today’s world and students are different, teachers need to know how to use technology so
they can teach differently and model the appropriate use of technology for students in the
classroom.However, learning to use technology requires that teachers are given time for appropriate
training relevant to their classroom situations. Preservice teachers need effective training that
enables them to envision how technology can be an effective and motivating resource in their future
classrooms. In college courses where preservice teachers learn methods of instruction, professors
need to model the use of technology in their teaching and plan assignments that require preservice
teachers to do the same. Research shows that modeling the integration of technology is one of the
key factors that influences whether or not a preservice teacher will use technology in their future
classrooms (Brown &Warschauer, 2006; Fleming, Motamedi& May 2007). It is not enough simply to
know how to use the technology, but teachers need to know how toleverage the technologies to help
their students develop 21st century skills (Lambert &Cuper, 2009). Only as this happens on a regular
basis will our youth be prepared for the changing demands of this 21st century world where
technology is indispensable.
Watch this video:Teaching the 21st Century Learner
[Link to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTWTKDdw8f4&feature=related]
Century Standards – Standards are Different
According to professional standards, Teachers need to know how to use technology so they can
design learning experiences for students that make use of these tools.Any textbook should be based
on current standards in the field, and this book is no exception as it supports the national technology
standards for teachers and students (See standards at the end of the chapter). Carefully read and
reflect on the national technology standards to become acquainted with them and their relationship
to 21st century skills. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) published the
National Educational Technology Standards for Students 2007 (NETS-S) (ISTE, 2007) and the
National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers 2008 (NETS-T) (ISTE, 2008). The most
recent versions of these standards represent a significant step forward in meeting the demands of
21stcentury learning. This textbook also requires students to investigate and support their respective
academic content standards in each activity. This practice will help students understand that the
course is not just for learning the technical skills of using technology, but rather, it is for learning to
use technology in the context of the classroom. In this way, preservice teachers will learn the real
meaning of technology integration when technology is simply the means to help students learn in
more exciting ways.
Century Skills – Skills are Different
Teachers need to know how to use technology because these are the tools that will compel students
to practice and learn 21st century skills those skills needed in today’s world and workplace.There is
a growing movement worldwide to redesign classrooms by focusing on 21stcentury skills
(Commission of European Communities, 2008; Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2009a; Vockley,
2008). One example is the Partnership for 21st Century Skills that is working to design American high
schools for 21stcentury learning and achievement. In these schools, students would acquire
knowledge in their core subjects but they would also intentionally and purposefully acquire
21stcentury knowledge and skills in the context of learning academic content. 21st century skills are
those skills needed to be successful in today’s world. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2009b)
proposes that 21st Century curriculum and instruction:
Focuses on 21stcentury skills discretely in the context of core subjects and 21stcentury
Focuses on providing opportunities for applying 21st century skills across content areas and
for a competency-based approach to learning
Enables innovative learning methods that integrate the use of supportive technologies,
inquiry and problem-based approaches and higher order thinking skills
Encourages the integration of community resources beyond school walls
Curriculum should be designed to produce deep understanding and authentic application of 21st
century skills; include models of appropriate learning activities; clearly identify 21st century skills as
the goals for learning; and be embedded with performance-based assessments. Instruction should
connect essential concepts and skills, coach students from teacher-guided experiences toward
independence, offer real-world opportunities to demonstrate their mastery of key concepts and 21st
century skills, and connect curriculum to learners’ experiences (Partnership for 21st Century Skills,
2009b). In this textbook, the curriculum is designed around 21st century skills that will produce deep
understanding of what it means to integrate technology. 21st century goals are clearly identified in
each chapter so that preservice teachers can learn about them and understand how to promote these
same skills in their future classrooms. What the video below and then read about each of the 21st
century skills that you should integrate in your future classroom.
Watch this video:21st Century Skills in Action: Critical Thinking,
Creative Thinking, and Problem Solving
[Link to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s6PIrXwt7M]
A. Creativity and Innovation
Creativity is using existing knowledge and originality to generate and develop new ideas or
products. Innovation is acting on creative ideas to make a tangible contribution to
society.Today’s intelligence involves much more than acquired knowledge; rather, it is the
capacity to create, produce and apply learning to new situations.Students need these skills
so they can use their creative ideas and contribute new ideas and products for society.
B. Communication and Collaboration
Communicationis the ability to convey one’s thoughts effectively to others for a range of
purposes using variety of media and technologies. Collaboration is demonstrating the
ability to work together effectively, assuming shared responsibility for the work to be
accomplished, and contributing to a project team to solve problems. Students need to be able
to communicate and collaborate so they can interact and contribute to the teamwork in a
C. Research and Information Literacy
Research and Informationliteracyinvolve the ability to analyze information critically;
determine what information is needed; locate, synthesize, evaluate, and use information
effectively. Students need these skills especially today to access the abundance of available
information efficiently and effectively, to use the information accurately, and understand the
ethical issues related to the use of this information.
D. Critical Thinking
Critical thinkingrequires the abilities to analyze, evaluate, synthesize, interpret, and make
connections between bits of information.Bloom’s early taxonomy of cognition included six
graduated levels of thinking that move from knowledge, to comprehension, application,
analysis, synthesis and, finally, evaluation (Bloom, 1956).As Bloom’s taxonomy was updated,
the higher levels of thinking were identified as analyzing, evaluating, and creating. Thus, the
same three skills continued to be considered the higher level thinking skills. The order of the
top two skills was reversed, and the name “synthesis” was changed to “creating” to reflect
the importance of the creative process (Anderson, Krathwohl, Airasian, Cruikhank, et al.,
2000). The higher levels of thinking—analyzing, evaluating, and creating—are key to critical
thinking and form the basis for developing all other 21stCentury skills (Levy &Murnane,
2004). Students need these skills to identify and ask questions, collect and analyze data, and
use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to obtain answers to solve problems.
E. Nonlinear Thinking
Linear thinking is a process of thought following a step-by-step progression in one
direction.Linear multimedia tools generally progress from one slide to the next and are
commonly used by instructors as a supplementary teaching aid. This form of multimedia
tends to limit learning potential because it does not require active participation.Nonlinear
thinking is “human thought characterized by expansion in multiple directions, rather than
in one direction, and based on the concept that there are multiple starting points from which
one can apply logic to problem” (Chuck’s Lamp, 2009).Nonlinear thinking is required when
reading or working in a hyperlinked environment such as the Internet where hyperlinks
allow a viewer to navigate in multiple directions.
Multimedia nonlinear environments, such as are found in electronic CDs or the Internet,
offer viewers the choice to navigate wherever they like using hyperlinks among information
containing a variety of complementing media such as text, audio, graphics, animation,
and/or video. These kinds of environmentsprovideviewers interactivity, control of progress,
and choice in their construction of knowledge. While multimedia classroom tools offer
classroom teachers multiple ways of engaging students in the learning process, they also
present challenges for teachers. One of the challenges lies in the fact that certain multimedia
tools promote far more active learning and student decision-making than others (Jacobson
&Archodidou, 2000). Even with these challenges, students need to know how to navigate in
nonlinear multimedia environments because these are so prevalent today. Students also
need to know how to create their own nonlinear multimedia projects because this will allow
them to use their creativity, critical thinking skills, and construct their own knowledge.
F. Visual Literacy and Visual Thinking
Visual literacy is the ability to interpret, make meaning, and create messages from
information presented in the form of images (Wileman, 1993; Heinich, Molenda, Russell,
&Smaldino, 1999). Visual thinking is the ability to turn information of all types into
pictures, graphics, and other visual forms to communicate information by associating ideas,
concepts, and data or other verbal information with images. Visual forms of communication
include diagrams, maps, videos, gestures, street signs, time lines, flow charts, symbols, etc.
Increasingly, text-based languageis being replaced by videos, images, audio, graphs,
illustrations, and other forms of electronic media as the Internet, handheld digital devices,
and social networks are the predominant modes of literacy for students. Visuals can be
powerful forms of communication as they capture attention, evoke emotion, engage, and
provoke inquiry and higher order thinking, provide creative outlets for writing, aid in
problem solving, and enhance reading. For example, McVicker (2007) uses comics for
instruction because they can help students develop visual literacy skills by inferring meaning
from text and images. Sorensen (2008) uses primary sources to teach world history enabling
students to look for patterns in historical events and evaluate the unspoken assumptions
that provide insight into a civilization. Moline (2006) uses graphic organizers because they
can provide an ideal framework for writing especially since even young readers can
interpret these long before they can read. Digital storytelling has become a compelling,
engaging, and interactive way of letting students express themselves. George Lucas, a
renowned filmmaker who made Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark envisions a new way
of learning that incorporates cinema in the classroom.
They [students] need to understand a new language of expression. The
way we are educating is based on nineteenth-century ideas and methods.
Here we are, entering the twenty-first century, and you look at our
schools and ask, 'Why are we doing things in this ancient way?' Our
system of education is locked in a time capsule. You want to say to the
people in charge, 'You're not using today's tools! Wake up!'
We must teach communication comprehensively, in all its forms. Today
we work with the written or spoken word as the primary form of
communication. But we also need to understand the importance of
graphics, music, and cinema, which are just as powerful and in some ways
more deeply intertwined with young people's culture. We live and work
in a visually sophisticated world, so we must be sophisticated in using all
the forms of communication, not just the written word. (Daly, 2004)
While the benefits of integrating visuals, particularly technology-based visual forms in the
classroom are numerous, visual forms of communication are being used to persuade, bias,
profit, and manipulate students. Media uses beautiful people to attract attention and sell
products. The tactics of fear, humor, sentiment, and intensity are used to stimulate feelings
and promote solutions to common problems. Flattery persuades viewers to love something
or some object. Names are associated with negative symbols to make you question the worth
of some idea. All these negative aspects of visual forms of media make it essential that
teachers incorporate visual literacy in their instruction. Students need these skills so they
can recognize, evaluate, and interpret the visuals they encounter and understand how these
images shape their personal lives as well as a culture and society.
G. Spatial Thinking
Spatialthinking is a set of cognitive skills that require individuals to have an awareness of
space (National Research Council, 2006). It is the concept of space that makes spatial
thinking a distinctive form of thinking. Students need to use spatial thinking to understand
space and its properties (e.g., dimensionality, continuity, proximity, and separation) that can
be used to interconnect all knowledge. Studentscan also understand how the properties of
space can help them structure problems, analyze information, find answers to problems,
predict patterns present in data, and express and communicate solutions to problems.
Silverman (2002) developed the concept of the visual-spatial learners to define those
learners who think mainly in images. Visual-spatial thinking is often characteristic of
creative individuals. Some at-risk students tend to have a preference for visual spatial
thinking, which is actually faster and more powerful than auditory sequential thinking.
Silverman found that some students had extraordinary abilities to solve problems presented
to them visually and excelled in the spatial tasks of intelligence tests. Thus, teachers
sometimes overlook some of their students’ potential if they do not teach in a way that
allows these students to capitalize on this ability.
H. Digital-Age Reflection
The concepts, “reflection” and “reflective practice”are entrenched in teacher education
literature (Ottesen, 2007) with good reason. Reflection is a vehicle for critical analysis and
problem solving and is at the heart of purposeful learning. Reflective observation focuses on
the knowledge being learned (i.e., curriculum) as well as the experiential practice (i.e.,
pedagogy); both are important aspects of the learning process (Kolb, 1984). Through
metacognitive examination of their own experiences, preservice teachers are encouraged to
take a closer look at what they are learning and to explore their own growth in greater
depth. Experiencing the power of reflection in their own learning, they are more likely to
encourage similar reflection on the part of their students. When reflection has been included
in instruction, it allows preservice teachers to address uncertainties in their own learning,
develop new approaches to learning, and document their growth as reflective practitioners
(Capobianco, 2007; Moran, 2007).While reflective activities have long included journal
entries or narrative writing, technology can facilitate and enhance the skills of reflection as
electronic reflections can be readily archived, revisited, updated and shared in exciting and
creative ways. Students need to know how to reflect on their learning so they can critically
analyze what they’ve learned, address uncertainties, examine misconceptions, develop new
approaches to learning, and document their learning.