Technology can be a great tool when it is implemented correctly into a school setting. However, it is important to remember that this is just that: a TOOL, used to enhance student learning, and achievement. The incorporation of technology into the classroom allows students to get out of their seats, and explore information, answers, and to think critically about situations that surround them. With the introduction of the internet and other information technology, the information that is literally at our children’s fingertips is nearly limitless. It is necessary that we used this information in positive, constructive ways and that we monitor the access to it, and evaluate the source that it comes from. The ultimate goal of technology integration is to give our students and our children the greatest opportunity at success in the future, and to help meet their needs for tomorrow, in our ever-changing world.
The introduction of modern technology (i.e. computers) into the classroom occurred in the late 1960’s- early 1970’s. The use of computers in the school setting, however, does not become more frequently occurring when 25% of high schools begin using the Apple II for “college and career guidance”. The mid-1990’s sees the internet being brought into school districts throughout the United States. It is still very limited in use, but it signifies the beginning of the “new information age” for our school districts. The next decade sees the internet explode into our classrooms. Nearly all schools today have access to the internet, and some at remarkable speeds. This has allowed our educators to explore more options for delivering information to our students, and it has allowed our students the ability to access information and find new ways to think critically about situations and solve problems that surround them. There are literally thousands of additional forms of technology that are being used in our classrooms today: the i-pod, i-pad, video and audio editing equipment, video and audio recording equipment, and green screen technology are just a few of these.
The International Society for Technology in Education has developed a set of standards that are to be used in guiding educators through the technology implementation process. Remember that the goal in this process is to increase student learning, and achievement through the use of technology. The following is an abbreviated list of those standards: 1. Creativity and Innovation Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology. Students: a. apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes. b. create original works as a means of personal or group expression. c. use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues. d. identify trends and forecast possibilities. 2. Communication and Collaboration Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. Students: a. interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media. b. communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats. c. develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures. d. contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems. 3. Research and Information Fluency Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. Students: a. plan strategies to guide inquiry. b. locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media. c. evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks. d. process data and report results. 4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources. Students: a. identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation. b. plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project. c. collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions. d. use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions. 5. Digital Citizenship Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior. Students: a. advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology. b. exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity. c. demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning. d. exhibit leadership for digital citizenship. 6. Technology Operations and Concepts Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations. Students: a. understand and use technology systems. b. select and use applications effectively and productively. c. troubleshoot systems and applications. d. transfer current knowledge to learning of new technologies.
It is important to include all stakeholders in any technology planning for a given school district. The teams that are used to create a vision for this district should include school administration, staff members, students, parents and community members. These team members should represent their specific populations as a whole. The questions that should be asked by the committee are: What is our goal/vision? How do we incorporate technology to reach that goal? What type of resistance will we face? How do we get all stakeholders “on board”? What process will we have in place for evaluation? Finally, the last stage of the planning process is to begin implementation. Along with implementation, it is necessary to make sure that there is a procedure for advertising and promoting this plan as it is integrated into the school curriculum.
“Technologies must be pedagogically sound. They must go beyond information retrieval to problem solving; allow new instructional and learning experiences not possible without them; promote deep processing of ideas; increase student interaction with subject matter; promote faculty and student enthusiasm for teaching and learning; and free up time for quality classroom interaction—in sum, improve the pedagogy.” Wager (1992) When technology is used as the tool to reach our objectives student learning is enhanced. As educators, we need to remember that technology is the vehicle which will help us get to our destination. When we teach with technology as our goal, we are limiting the achievements of our students. Because technology is changing so rapidly it is necessary to teach different types of learning, integrating existing technology to help us reach those goals. When this is done: “Higher-order thinking and problem- solving skills enable learners to apply their content knowledge in a variety of ways leading to innovation and deeper understanding of content domains.” (Cradler, 2002)
There are four main points when discussing the challenges that exist in integrating technology into the classroom: Access-Student and teacher access to the technology is essential to any successful technology program within a school district. There are a number of reasons why access may be limited. The first is funding. Schools are under constant pressure to find ways to limit spending. Unfortunately, many districts have chosen to take funding away from technology, thus taking steps backwards. Secondly, access may be limited by internet access. There are some parts of the country that still do not have adequate access to the internet, although this area is improving. Equalizing Access- The same categories of discrimination that occur within society are also prevalent when discussing technology access. Data from national surveys suggest that students from low-income homes and ethnic minorities are less likely to have computers in their homes (Becker & Sterling, 1987). Income is not the only factor when discussing the disparity in access to technology: race and sex are also factors. Involving Teachers-There are a number of reason why teachers choose not to be involved in the integration of technology into their classroom. Some are too stubborn, some are scared, other’s don’t feel they have the time, and yet others simply have no desire to learn something new. Whatever the reason for their hesitance, teacher involvement and resistance is a major obstacle to overcome. Technology Support- Even if districts have the funding available to access the technology and information, some do not have the resources to hire proper support. Without technology support, teachers are left “hanging” in some instances, and many feel that they do not have the necessary resources to help them develop their plan for implementing technology into their classroom. All of these challenges need to be discussed when building your districts strategic plan for implementing technology.
Abraham Maslow developed his hierarchy of needs well before modern technology had been implemented into the first classroom. However, the implementation of technology into our classrooms has renewed discussion surrounding Maslow’s theory. When technology is implemented properly as a tool used to reach higher levels of achievement for our students, it is believed that we are helping the students move towards self actualization. This means that they are not only able to solve problems in any situation, think critically and develop self-morality, but that they are also able to apply their skills to a variety of complex situations and actually begin to express creativity in applying those skills. These are the higher-level thinking and problem-solving skills that we strive for our students to achieve as they move through our classrooms and into the world beyond. This is the point at which we, as educators, receive our rewards: when we see our students moving successfully through life, facing life’s challenges and moving through and beyond them.
Technology is an awesome tool. However, when we begin to use technology as more than the tool to reach our goal, we do not teach our students how to appropriately face problems, think critically, and look for proven or creative solutions. In essence, we begin “teaching to the test”, and give them the answers, rather than allowing them to explore, research and solve. The rewards though, are that when we use technology as a tool, our students are able to develop skills that allow them to display these characteristics, and move through life finding success. There are certainly challenges that need to be addressed when developing and implementing a technology plan, but if the stakeholders can stay focused on the goals of the school district, community and world around them, the sky becomes the limit for today’s students, and tomorrow’s leaders.
Menu <ul><li>Why Integrate Technology? </li></ul><ul><li>Where were we, where are we, and where do we go now? </li></ul><ul><li>The Research, Challenges and Rewards </li></ul><ul><li>Summary </li></ul>
Why Should We Integrate Technology? <ul><li>Enhances student learning </li></ul><ul><li>Promotes active learning </li></ul><ul><li>Information is endless </li></ul><ul><li>Prepares students for the future </li></ul>