Integration of Technology in Today’s Classrooms

Today’s classrooms look quite different than they did a few decades ago. The days of green chalkboards with yellow and colored chalk, overhead projectors, and paper-based textbooks that weighed a ton have given way to whiteboards with dry erase markers, smart boards, and digital books. The integration of technology into the classroom has great potential to help teachers transform their classrooms into better learning environments for their students. However, technology alone cannot improve student learning. Teachers are a critical part in the success of using technology to enhance instruction and facilitate learning in the classroom — good teaching comes first, then technology (Lowther & Ross, 2012, p. 208).

Image

Many strides have been made over the past three decades to help integrate technology into pre-, primary, and secondary school classrooms (Lowther & Ross, 2012). However, a gap still exists between what is currently being done in the classroom and what needs to be done to help prepare students with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in life after high school in the 21st Century (Lowther & Ross, 2012). Closing this gap will require a new educational framework that integrates student mastery of core subjects and 21st Century skills (examples: higher order thinking and learning skills, information and communication technology literacy, and life skills) into the curriculum (Lowther & Ross, 2012). The following are weblinks that provide more information on 21st Century learning / education and technology integration at the classroom level:

Next week, the conversation will shift towards how the integration of technology in classrooms has made today’s learning environments more accessible to students who are blind or visually impaired (B/VI). Smart boards, web-based course management systems, and digital books have been very effective in empowering students with B/VI to take ownership of their learning, advocate for their educational needs, and be active participants in their classes.

References
Lowther, D. L., & Ross, S. M. (2012). Instructional designers and P-12 technology integration.  In R. A. Reiser & J. V. Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (3rd ed.) (208-214). Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Advertisements

10 comments

  1. I appreciate that you focus on using technology as an extension of good teaching, not as a replacement. Although technology does make it easier for students to find information and learn on their own, I still believe that teachers make a bigger difference in education. Yet, I agree that in today’s society teachers need to know technology in a way where they can use it in the most beneficial way for the student.

  2. I agree and thought the same as I looked over your blog, ‘technology alone cannot improve teaching’. I’m glad you pointed out that teaching should come first, I think technology is there to enhance learning and not to replace the role of the teacher. A good teacher will use technological resources as an aid to learning and to accomodate individual needs.

  3. It’s hard to imagine, but computers first started appearing in schools in the early 1980s. I remember a class on Pascal (a programming language) in 8th or 9th grade (I’m dating myself, but I graduated HS in 1985). All along, the push has been to use the computers more but there has never been much thought given to “how” and “why”. As a result, we are now where we are – technology being used more and more and largely as a replacement rather than in any transforming way. For many teachers, the how and why to use technology is a mystery. I’ve interacted with may k-12 teachers over the years via my role as a media/tech specialist, through PD offered at schools and through PD classes through Aims and the message from teachers has been pretty much consistent – we don’t get tech and we don’t know how to use it. I even hear this from 20-something pre-service teachers. I’m anxious to hear your thoughts on how to address this, but I think part of the solution involves helping teachers understand that it’s not about teaching w/tech, but students learning using many resources and tools with tech being just one of them.

    1. I guess I’m not surprised that teachers and pre-service teachers (of any age) feel that way about technology. The rapid pace at which technology changes and the misalignment between self-efficacy in understanding and using the “latest” technology and the expectation to use it “now” with students and in instruction without a lot of training definitely makes it challenging, and almost daunting, to embrace technology and use it in a way that transforms the way we and our students learn. When I was going through my teacher training program, we had very little instruction in and practical experience with using technology beyond accessing and completing our coursework. Additionally, instruction in and practical experience with using technologies our students would be using out in the field were confined to brief show-and-tell demonstrations. Everything I have learned about using technology has been through trial and error, Google searches, YouTube videos, and occasional “expert” help from others. I think the rate at which we learn to use technology and to understand the value of it as a teaching / learning resource depends on how open we are to it. The more open we are to learning and using technology, the more adaptable we will be with the changing times.

      I agree that technology has been used more as a replacement rather than as a resource to transform learning. I agree that part of the solution is to help teachers understand that it’s not all about teaching with technology and their abilities to use it; it’s about providing their students with the opportunities and resources to acquire and generate knowledge. I think one of the ways we can help teachers expand their views on technology and increase their efficacy in using it is to provide them with opportunities to actually experience and use technology in more transformative ways — teachers could be students too, right? Personnel preparation programs could lead by example and model how technology could be / should be used to transform learning and instruction as pre-service teachers go through their training programs. Schools could / should provide professional development opportunities for their faculty that require a “hands-on” approach to integrating technology into their classrooms so they can enhance the learning experiences of their students. Most importantly, though, educational institutions (at any grade level) should have friendly, knowledgeable staff on hand to help support teachers / instructors as they advance through their own technological learning curves. There may be some tears, some feet stomping, and maybe even some device throwing, but knowing that there is someone there to help you get through those maddening moments of frustration makes a world of difference in perserving through the learning process. 🙂

  4. LOL. I had this same hopeful feeling about a recent iPad purchase (They are so amazing for education! The whole state of California has them in their classrooms! There are tons of teacher apps that will transform my life!). It seemed undeniable that my students would benefit from my possession of one.

    Now that I have it, I have no idea what to do with it to help students learn.

    Perhaps the yoga and meditation apps are helping me to be a calmer teacher?

    1. Lol, Rebecca! I think all of our students would benefit from us being calmer teachers. 😉 Since you have an iPad now, maybe you can have your students show you how they use it to transform their learning? I know my students have… it’s amazing how much my students use their smartphones and tablet computers to access instructional materials in and outside the classroom. Additionally, these devices have empowered them to start making their own accommodations in the classroom, rather than waiting for someone else to do it for them. For example, when a worksheet is handed out in class, my students with low vision will take a picture of it with their iPads, then enlarge the picture until the text is a size that is comfortable for them to read. In the past, they would have needed to wait for someone to print them or make them a large print copy, depending on how far in advance the teacher was able to make the worksheet available for adaptation. The wonders of technology… isn’t it great?! 😀

      1. My issue with the iPad is that it’s all about the apps. Most apps are not created by educators or have any input from educators. The result is apps that usually replace thinking rather than enhance it. I know that’s not true all the time and there are good apps out there but too often I see students playing rather than learning. Maybe they are becoming melded but I don’t see iPads doing anything that any laptop couldn’t and often less. The Chromebook is my device of choice right now. It’s cheap, light, and fast. I got eight last year and a few teachers ended up using them all the time. Who needs 1-1. We did some pretty cool things with just eight because not all students need to sit in front of a screen the whole time. It’s about collaboration and seeing technology as a tool to support that.

  5. You’re right on the money, Nana. I’ve learned more about my iPad from my students (and my kids) than anybody else! I will have to ask them today how they think I could use it. I bet I will get some cool answers.

    I love the examples of how it is empowering your students. I bet Apple and countless teachers/parents would appreciate an article on that subject!

  6. One thing I have noticed is that technology has been imposed on education. It has seldom been neccesary. Often it is done as some half-baked idea to apply the coolest new technology to educational pursuits. I have nothing against technology in the classroom, but it would be a whole lot more intuitive and useful to teachers if the inital design of the technology orginated from educational needs, not profit motives.

    1. I think this stems from district people wanting to be seen as innovative but not really understanding how the tech will be used or if it’s even a wise purchase. Poudre rolled out a 1-1 in high schools and they bought clunky, slow and expensive laptops that the students don’t like and most teachers don’t know how to integrate. The vast majority of use is typing papers and making presentations. I think a smarter move would have been to put about 10 better and faster laptops in every room for students to pick up and use as needed and provide the training needed to help teachers shift to a more student-centered and collaborative mode of teaching. I know some teachers are doing great things but it’s the few who have taken the time to train themselves. Districts need to figure out how to get greater buy-in and help all teachers grow.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s