By Edutopia Staff
Scenario 1: A Typical Day. Checking e-mails and Skype messages take place before the morning cup of coffee. Then, on the way to work - a classroom, filled with wonderful students, eager to learn. Again and again, it is easy to "lose" them if they have to listen to a lecture or work with a textbook for a certain period of time. Yet, it is easy to "get them back" by turning on that magic screen - something they know and love so much. It is informing, it is engaging, it is NATURAL, and it uses more than one technique to teach at once. Well, then it does not even feel "like teaching". Once the class is over, I am on my way to the office, briefly checking e-mails and messages on the way. Back to my desk, I immediately have quite a few windows open at the same time in order to get the job done. Finally, I'm back home; There are still quite a few tasks to complete, and here I am using two screens again! I search, I write, I compose, I edit, I plan, and so forth. Finally, the day is over, and I once again regret not having a device to record that final idea I have in mind before I get to sleep.
Question: If this is the way of the world, WHY NOT TO INTEGRATE TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION?
According to the 2010 National Education Technology Plan: Learning Powered by Technology, there is a need for "applying the advanced technologies used in our daily personal and professional lives to our entire education system" in order to improve student learning. In fact, the plan also states that "technology is at the core of virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work, and we must leverage it to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences..." (pg. 7) Moreover, the plan also identifies technology-based learning and assessment systems as key elements in enhancing student learning as well as "generating data that can be used to continuously improve the education system at all levels." (pg.7) Finally, it identifies five essential components of learning powered by technology: Learning, Assessment, Teaching, Infrastructure, and Productivity (pg.7.) Therefore, the sooner today's educators master technology integration into their classroom curricular, the sooner today's students will master the skills necessary in order to be successful and productive in every aspect of their personal and professional lives.
Further, according to Borsheim, Merritt, & Reed (2008), teachers who do integrate technology into their lessons accomplish more than simply engaging students with "cool tools" (pg. 87); rather, they "prepare students with multiliteracies and for the realities of the technological world (pg. 87.) The authors define a multiliterate person as one "who is flexible and strategic" (p.87) and who can understand and adopt literacy in a variety of texts and tools, "in socially responsible ways and in a socially, culturally, and linguistically diverse world, and to fully participate in life as an active and informed citizen." (pg. 87.) Finally, they argue that teachers who do apply multiliteracy pedagogy in their teaching practices provide their students with great opportunities to "access, evaluate, search, sort, gather, and read information" from numerous multimedia sources as well as encourage them to work collaboratively in both "real and virtual" environments and to "produce and publish multimedia and multimodal texts for a variety of audiences and purposes" (p. 87.)
How To Approach Technology Integration for Teachers
Once the need for technology integration is identified, next comes the question: How should it be done and what is the best approach? Koehler and Mishra (2005) argue that simply introducing technology to the students is not enough for successful integration as "technology alone does not lead to change" (pg. 132.) In fact, in order for teachers to develop fluency with educational technology, they are expected to "go beyond mere competence with the latest tools", i.e., to develop a clear understanding of the framework that offers a "complex interplay between technology, content, and pedagogy" (pg. 132). This Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge framework (TPCK) is the key element of effective teaching with technology (pg. 132.)
Lastly, Roblyer and Doering (2011) call for looking at technology as the solution to the barriers that prevent us from "a better, more productive way of life" (pg. xvii). While they acknowledge the existence of two opponent learning models such as Constructivist Model and Directed Model, they do claim that educators can still effectively integrate technology into their teaching based on the needs. To demonstrate, they offer the strategies such as "to promote skill fluency or automaticity, to support efficient, self paced learning, and to support self-paced review of concepts" for Directed Teaching Models and "to faster creative problem solving and metacognition, to help build mental models and increase knowledge transfer, and to foster group cooperation skills", among others, for Constructivist Teaching Model (p. 50-51.)
To conclude, technology is here and it is here to stay. It is a key aspect of our everyday lives, and it defines who we are in our ever evolving world. It is obvious that today's students are immersed in and highly motivated by technology, yet it is not utilized by educators to the full extent, i.e., to the extent it is used by students outside the classroom. By not using technology in the classroom the way we do it in the real world, we deprive our students of the skills they need once they leave the classroom.
Borsheim, C., Merritt, K., & Reed, D. (November 01, 2008). Beyond Technology for Technology's Sake: Advancing Multiliteracies in the Twenty-First Century. Clearing House: a Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 82, 2, 87-90.
Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (January 01, 2005). What Happens when Teachers Design Educational Technology? The Development of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 32.
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, Aaron H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.
U.S. Department of Education. (2010) National Education Technology Plan 2010 Executive Summary. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010