Integrating Technology into the Classroom by Diana Herrell

Currently, it is more important for classrooms to use technology to help expand a students’ learning than ever before. With the growth of the internet and invention of technology to make the internet more accessible and mobile, learning using technology and the internet has begun to increase. It is the instructor’s responsibility to select appropriate technology for the purpose of the class. Technology needs to be able to expand a student’s learning without detracting from it.

In my personal experience, technology can be both a blessing and a curse. Technology can be a blessing in the sense that resources and information not normally quickly accessed can be. However, the access of information, especially on the internet can come at the cost of plagiarism. Some instructors use digital-drop boxes and tools like turnitin.com to make sure that students do not plagiarize. Technology can also be a disaster if the instructor or student does not know how to properly use it. Instructors as well as students need to be advised and given instructions on how to use certain technologies. Properly integrating technologies into a classroom is also needed.

In chapter 21 of the textbook, Trends and Issues In Instructional Design and Technology, the ASSURE model is one such integration model of technology that is suggested. This model follows six steps that start with analyzing learners. Analyzing learners simply means identifying the students and their characteristics, learning styles, knowledge, special skills, and more. The next step is to understand and state the objectives of the class as well as the standards for technology that will be used. The third step is selecting the technology, media, and other materials. This step is based off of present skills of the students as well as what they expect to learn. Step four is to utilize technology, media, and materials, which means that the teacher will use the technology and other tools to help the students achieve their learning goals. The fifth step is to require learner participation through ways that will allow students to use and apply their new skills and knowledge that they have learned. The last step is to evaluate the achievement that has happened among the students mastery of the skills and the impact of technology and other tools in achieving this mastery of skills. This step allows for the instructor to change things about the course or technology and tools used if they need to.

Today, instructors in the United States and beyond are using technology in and out of the classrooms and conducted studies have shown the success of using technology. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/12/131210-ipad-learning-education-space-science/. This link will take you to an article that discusses the use of IPads and tablets in the study of science. The research discussed in this link suggests that studying with a tablet can stimulate learning gains even in a short amount of time. It also suggests that tablets may be beneficial when studying complicated scientific concepts such as time or other large subjects. This article is just one that shows how the use of IPads and tablets is helping students in the classroom.

Another use of technology in the classroom that I find interesting is the innovative idea of flipped schools. Flipped schools or classrooms are where the student learns at home first and then does homework or projects at school. This idea is one that will need a lot of research to show its success but many parents seem pleased by it. This idea takes the cost of technology and the use of it almost away from the school and puts it on the parent. With most libraries offering computer and internet access and a lot of people having personal computers, this idea might help cut the cost of technologies that schools would have to pay for while also promoting technology and learning. This innovative idea is getting a lot of attention as some schools are showing improved test scores. Students in the case of flipped schools are watching lectures, that were prerecorded, outside of the school day and then doing homework and projects together during the school day. This allows students to ask instructors for help if they run into a problem. Two articles/links that I feel discuss flipped classroom well are http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/what-does-a-flipped-classroom-look-like-2/ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzPJ6XNWcwY. Time and research will show and tell if this new innovative model of teaching is successful and useful or not.

Overall, technology is important in today’s society. Most jobs want people who have basic computer and internet skills. I think that it is important to integrate appropriate technology into the classroom at an early grade level so students can learn and improve not only their learning but their skills with certain modes of technology. Today’s society is becoming more and more connected and quickly accessing information. Instructors need to incorporate the internet and other resources into classroom instruction so students don’t fall behind in skill level. Technology has also been shown to be helpful in teaching difficult concepts to students. More research is needed on what technology is appropriate to use with students and just how it impacts them. Instructors need to move from a traditional classroom into a 21st century classroom.

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7 comments

  1. Thought provoking post. I agree that technology is important in education, but I would go a step further to say that it is not only important, but vital. As time goes on, fewer and fewer jobs will be available that do not require the use of computers and the internet. Integrating technology in classrooms needs to continue and expand, even though it will require teachers to adjust the way they teach and interact with their students.

    It is an interesting idea to use flipped classrooms as way to keep technology costs down, but that brings up the concern about those families who cannot afford to provide the technologies necessary. Would the school at least have options for students to use school supplies when they have no other convenient options? Keep in mind that staying after school to use school computers won’t be convenient, or even possible, for some students.

    I’m still not use about a flipped classroom. I would not favor a completely flipped classroom, but I definitely see the benefits of a classroom that balances flipped-classroom experiences with traditional classroom experiences, especially with subjects where classroom discussion is crucial, like literature, foreign languages, etc. I see the benefits, especially for many math and science classes, but if it was done all of the time, I think students would miss out on many benefits available with class discussions.

    1. I think the flipped classroom idea isn’t well understood yet. It’s more than just lectures at home and homework at school. It’s more about giving students the opportunity to engage with content at their own pace (rewind, repeat, discuss with parents/peers, etc. and can be text and video) and achieving whatever level of understanding they can on their own and then entering a community of learners who have all developed different levels of understanding and then applying what they have learned to situations designed to help them further their understanding through a shared experience. Discussion and interaction is enhanced in this model while passive learning is removed. Ideally, this results in engaged learners at home and in school. While Khan Academy helped popularize this approach, I think it also helped create misconceptions. Plus, Khan’s videos are boring.

      1. Thank you for that comment. It helps me understand the concept much better. I agree with doing away with passive learning while increasing discussion and interaction. I’m guessing that discussion can include additional explanation from the instructor, when needed, and that discussions can be as an entire class or in groups? Can homework still be assigned to be completed at home?

        1. In a flipped classroom, homework isn’t traditional homework. it’s the interaction with the content. You might argue that’s what traditional homework is, but it really isn’t. Traditional homework usually meant students applied what they learned in school while at home. This often doesn’t work because as soon as they have a question they are stuck and often don’t get unstuck. In the flipped model they are doing this applying at school. Not understanding aspects of the content at home is fine and expected in this model.

          Even in an un-flipped approach, I’d challenge teachers to really think about the value of traditional homework. Anything that asks students to apply knowledge that they are still in the process of learning is likely to be more a waste time and frustrating. Anyone who has kids can attest to the amount of time students often spend on meaningless busy work or having to step in and re-teach the content (often without the context).

          I do think it is useful to move things like typing papers out of the classroom and to home. The mapping and drafting can and should happen at school, but there is little benefit in having students sit for a couple hours typing up papers. The counter argument is that not all students have computers at home. Well, most do and you can make accommodations for those who don’t and public and school libraries have computers too.

          As for teachers providing additional explanation when needed, I think that will depend on the situation. Often, the teacher’s explanation isn’t going to help (http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/tomorrows-college/lectures/rethinking-teaching.html). We often think it does because we are so much more knowledgeable but that can be the actual barrier to student understanding. We don’t remember what it’s like to NOT understand so have difficulty speaking at their level.

          I should probably write a post on this, but I think anyone wanting to be a 21st century, student-centered teacher needs to just do one thing – stop trying to teach. I’ll elaborate on that later but for now think about it.

  2. I like this quote, “technology needs to be able to expand a student’s learning without detracting from it.” We often talk about transforming uses of tech or using tech to add value to learning. These are important ideas to understand. Much of tech use over the past couple decades was just replacing without transforming. Teachers need to learn how to bring in technology in ways that do exactly what you said – expand and not detract.

    There is, however, another aspect to technology that is often overlooked. For most teachers, using technology is a conscious decision. For students growing up in the tech-enabled world it isn’t. Technology is just the way things are done. It’s transparent. If you ask an adult to remember something they will likely write it down with pencil and paper. It’s not something we think about. Ask a student and they will likely use their phone. Ask an adult for directions and they’ll draw you a map. Ask a student and they’ll tell you to just Google it.

    This sets up an interesting dichotomy in the classroom – teachers making conscious decisions about the one right tool for a project on behalf of students who probably have any number of other ideas about how to do it. Why not just let them. Rather than teachers focusing and sweating over a few tools, just focus on creating an environment in which students can explore and discover using whatever tools they want.

  3. Diana, I really liked how you emphasized the importance of teachers and students knowing how to use the technology that will be used in instruction and the classroom. I think the learning curve involved with learning how to use new technologies, software, or programs is something we tend to overlook sometimes as we try to incorporate technology into education and our lives. Learning how to use new devices, software, programs, and apps can be a very frustrating process, and it does take time to do it. I think allocating time for ourselves and our students to learn and use the technology is foundational in making that technology “work” in and out of the learning environment.

    In regard to flipped classrooms, I really like the idea; however, to truly make it successful and effective, teachers / instructors really need to put in the time and effort that is needed to plan, design, and implement instruction and activities that will be relevant and meaningful to the students — time that most of us would probably say we don’t have at the moment. A couple years ago, I played around with the blended classroom idea for a class I was teaching. It was a one-week, intensive summer course (Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 4 pm) for undergraduate and graduate students in a teacher preparation program for students with visual impairments. Since I had a lot of material to cover in a short amount of time, I wanted my students to learn some of the basic content outside of class and reserve class time for discussions, group work, simulations, and fieldwork. I found out quickly that it took a lot of time to make lecture videos (writing scripts and making slide presentations that were not text heavy took waaaaay longer than I anticipated) and to find good supplemental materials (e.g., YouTube videos) to accompany the content being presented. I have to admit that there were times when I thought it would have just been easier for me to lecture to my students in class for a few hours, but I’m sure my students appreciated not having to listen to me lecture for 4 to 5 hours each day. 😀 Overall, the blended learning experience was interesting… it took some time for us to get used to it, but not too much time because it was only a week-long class! I would definitely do some things differently the next time around, like give myself more time to prepare materials for the learning time outside of class and have my students generate some of their own learning materials.

    Flipping classrooms has been a hot topic in education for the past few years. It will be interesting to see where this approach is headed and if more research will be conducted to evaluate its effectiveness on student engagement and learning.

    1. Many teachers take that approach. They spend hours at home developing videos only to find that it’s easier to just do the lecture. For a one-off class like this it’s probably more work than necessary. I’d probably have focused on using what’s already out there in conjunction with text based materials and use class time to help cement the learning via discussion, group work, etc.

      For topics taught often, why not just video a live lecture? I might plan it a bit to be more easily chunked into smaller pieces but students really don’t care how flashy it is. Short, clear and to the point is all they really want. Also consider that a flipped class doesn’t have to be video lecture after video lecture. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Tap into all the good resources already on the web and fill in the holes with your own text, audio or video content.

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