Technology Integration: Relative Advantage in Content Area

As we have covered at length in our blog posts this semester, the relative advantage of incorporating technology into the classroom is too evident to ignore. Whether in language arts, math, science, art, social studies or PE technology has the ability to provide an expanded and relevant experience unmatched at any point in history.

Our students today demand access to education that matches their definition of literacy. Technology rich lessons and teachers trained to use the technology meet this demand. The International Reading Association agrees and explains that students have the right to technologically proficient teachers, curriculums, assessment methods and equal access to computers. (Roblyer and Doering, 2010) Therefore, as teachers consider their FITness, their technological knowledge should not be seen as “an “end state” but rather, [they shoud] see it developmentally–as evolving over a lifetime of generative, open-ended interactions with technology.” (Harris, Mishra and Koehler, 2010).

Since language art skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) are necessary to succeed in other subjects, there’s no wonder that, “the most creative and prolific array of strategies and applications for enhancing teaching with technology can be found in English and language arts.”(Roblyer and Doering, 2010).   This may be in answer to the negative impact technology is having on the youth of today in that they are less likely to engage traditional reading and writing methods. On page 282, Roblyer and Doering state “Teachers find it an ongoing challenge to motivate students to read – either for study or for pleasure.”(2010) Therefore the interactive and visual elements provided by software and websites can positively increase motivation. Motivation also happen when students see real world applications to their educational endeavors. The video above demonstrates how students thrive when engaged in authentic learning opportunities. With a 100% college admission  record, it is hard to deny that High Tech High is onto something.

As a teacher of English as a foreign language at the university level, I rarely have situations where behavior is an issue. However, student apathy to learning English can have very negative effects not only on class, but also on me as a teacher. It is quite common to have extreme variations of ability within a single class. Being able to teach the same lesson to the entire class requires careful planning and teaching methods that help everyone feel included while offering the right level of learning challenge for each student. Technology helps me assess student needs and tailor learning activities that allow students to “work independently on developing reading, writing, speaking and listening.”(Roblyer and Doering, 2010) This leads to increased confidence and more interaction within the classroom and higher levels of morale.

Another advantage to technology with a content area is that it can make the intangible come to life. Simulations within the math and science classroom allow students to visualize experiments or story problems that would otherwise require imagination only. “New tech tools for visualizing and modeling, especially in the sciences, offer students ways to experiment and observe phenomenon and to view results in graphic ways that aid in understanding.”  (Edutopia, 2008) Moreover, when students want to learn about a particular movement in art or a period in history, they can take a virtual tour through some of the world’ most impressive museums. Additionally, “some simulators allow students to take an active part in historical situations that would not otherwise be possible due to historical or physical distance.” (Roblyer and Doering, 2010)

However, these exceptional advantages do not come without their perils. The Internet is ripe with misinformation and can lead to misunderstandings and conflict. Students who access websites with intentionally or unintentionally wrong information will need information literacy that will help them assess the quality of the information they find. “As Harp (1996) puts it, schools must “mobilize their curriculum leaders into quality management” (p. 38) to monitor and help students become more analytical about the information they receive.” (Roblyer and Doering, 2010)

By incorporating technology into content areas, teachers will truly open the subject to their students. Visually and audibly rich materials increase motivation while interactive websites allow students to master subskills or express themselves collaboratively or to an audience beyond the four walls of their classroom. And with authentic learning experiences, students use higher order thinking skills, which helps them prepare for the high-tech, competitive world of the future.

Resources

    1. Edutopia. (2008). Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are ManyRetrieved April 6, 2012, from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-introduction
    2. Harris, J.B. & Mishra,P & Koehler, M.J. (2007). Teachers’ Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Curriculum-based Technology Integration Reframed. Retrieved April 6, 2012, from http://mkoehler.educ.msu.edu/OtherPages/Koehler_Pubs/TECH_BY_DESIGN/AERA_2007/AERA2007_HarrisMishraKoehler.pdf
    3.  Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.