Say ‘Yes’ to Technology Integration in Education
It is laundry day. Do the words washboard, dolly tub, and mangle mean anything to you? If you have never heard of these words, consider yourself to be very fortunate indeed. Women in the 1930s and 1940s used devices like these to wash clothes. Today, we have front loading, top loading and HE washing machines—they are all-in-one devices. One machine cleans, rinses, and wrings out our garments while we do something else. When the machine is done, we simply transfer the clean clothes to the dryer. Technology like this frees us from drudgery and provides leisure time. If this is the case, why would anyone reject technology that makes our lives better?
Unfortunately, some educators still reject technology integration in the classroom. Perhaps resistance occurs because people are not aware of the benefits of technology integration. Like the washing machine, technology integration strategies are beneficial, if not, invigorating. Would you say “yes” to the implementation of technology if 1) it supports teaching models already in existence and empowers teachers by ensuring choice; and 2) it cultivates meaningful learning and motivates learners?
Teachers are more likely to use technology if it complements their teaching practices. In the book Integrating Educational Technology and Teaching (6th ed.), Roblyer and Doering clearly state that both directed and constructivist models are supported by technology integration. For example an educator who utilizes the directed teaching model may be surprised to find that technology integration can be used “to promote skill fluency or automaticity”. (Roblyer & Doering, p. 49) What does this mean in terms of the real world?
Consider this scenario: a communication technology teacher has certain students who are not as fluent as they should be when it comes to their word processing skills. He knows an online typing tutor like “TypingWeb” will be perfect for these particular students because they can work at a comfortable pace, and he can monitor their progress. Technology used in this manner makes sense. When I first started teaching in the 1990s, communication technology teachers had each and every student use a how-to-type textbook. Everyone started on the same page and ended on the same page. There was very little freedom to work at your own pace. Some of these teachers even shouted out the letters or words from the textbook while students typed out what was said. This would be done over and over. Of course, this drill and kill method was tedious. If you were a communication technology teacher which teaching method would you prefer? More importantly, if you were a student which method would you prefer?
The above scenario also brings to light the fact that technology integration allows for choice. The teacher has clearly decided that some students need to practice certain skills while others do not. He has control over how technology is used to support the curriculum and meet the needs of his students at the same time. He sees the advantages associated with this choice. However, some teachers do not feel comfortable making these choices even if there are definite advantages. This occurs because some educators simply do not know where to begin nor do they know which steps to take. They have a lot of important questions that require answers. Some possible questions might be:
- What tool works best with the content that must be covered?
- Is there a technology-based method that effectively meets both learning and teaching needs?
- How much time and work will it take to implement the technology solution?
Some experts, like Robyler and Doering, believe that by having a technology integration plan in place teachers are more likely to use technology in their classrooms. A Technology Integration Planning Model (TIP) guides the teacher during the decision making process, and each step “helps ensure that technology use will be meaningful, efficient, and successful in meeting needs.” (Robyler & Doering, p. 52) In addition, such a plan “gives teachers a general approach to identifying and addressing challenges involved in integrating technology into teaching.” (Robyler & Doering, p. 52) Simply put, the plan encourages teachers to choose what new resource to use and what to reject if there is no relative advantage to using it. Clearly, if choice is encouraged, teachers will be more willing to use technology in the classroom as well.
Of course, methodology and choice are important but the true advantage of technology integration is that it cultivates meaningful learning and motivates learners. In an article entitled “Global Collaboration for Elementary Students” two elementary school teachers, one from Maryland and the other from Hawaii, decided to bring their two schools together via Skype. Once the students formed partnerships, they wrote poems together. What the students gained in the end was more than just ‘partner poems’ though; they also gained an understanding of various cultures and geography. Furthermore, the educators were completely amazed at other results as well. Dana Novotny, a technology integration teacher, observed that “by choosing collaborative tools” (like Skype, Edmodo and VoiceThread) we “renewed the love of learning for our students. They were “excited to learn, collaborate, and communicate.” (Richardson, 2012) Another unexpected outcome from the exchange was that “Edmodo and VoiceThread made it possible for the teachers to support and celebrate student work.” Richardson also added, “it meant the world for the students in Hawaii to have teachers from Maryland giving positive feedback on their work. It was a wonderful feeling to know that someone so far away cared about what they were producing.” (Richardson, 2012) However the most powerful testimony comes from one of the student’s own reflections. The student noted that “the (tools) allowed them to learn with each other, not just about each other.” (Richardson, 2012) Wouldn’t you want your students to be motivated and invigorated by technology? Wouldn’t you want your students to be a part of something this meaningful? The answer, of course, is ‘yes’.
The above example proves that “technology, when integrated into the curriculum, revolutionizes the learning process. More and more studies show that technology integration in the curriculum improves students’ learning processes and outcomes.” (“Why Do We Need Technology Integration,” 2007) Who wouldn’t want to improve learning processes and outcomes? Technology integration fully supports teaching models already in existence and empowers teachers at the same time by ensuring choice. More importantly, however, it fosters meaningful learning and motivates learners. Because of this, we must say ‘yes’ to technology integration in education.
Richardson, C., MEd. (2012, August 08). Global Collaboration for Elementary Students. ISTE: Leading and Learning. Retrieved September 04, 2012, from http://www.iste.org
Roblyer, M.D. & Doering, A. H. (2012). Chapter 2. Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th ed., pp. 34-70). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Why Do We Need Technology Integration? (2007, May 11). Edutopia. Retrieved September 04, 2012, from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-importance