Integrating Technology in the Classroom
In an age where the use of technology has increased at such a rapid pace it is inevitable that technology has increased it’s presence in the classroom. The use of technology in the classroom enables students to take on an active role in their education. It allows all students to strive for their maximum potential by providing assistance to persons with disabilities. It is important to integrate technology into a child’s education because most, if not all, of their adult life will make use of current and future technologies. Technology in the classroom does have some drawbacks. Teachers need to find new ways of evaluating student learning. With advances in technology dishonest students can find more intelligent ways of cheating on a test or exam. Often students rely on the technology to do the work for them and when the technology goes down the student is left not knowing what to do. When it comes to completing work outside of class what happens when the resources aren’t available in the home? Through careful integration technology can successfully be used in the educational setting.
Previously the role of a student was a passive one. The teacher prepared and presented class content and the student sat there taking notes and occasionally asking questions and completing assignments to reinforce the concepts taught. Now that has changed to a more active student directed approach. If a class is assigned a project on Egypt the student could use the internet to find information and a vast array of topics from clothing to religious beliefs. Students have more freedom to learn what they want. Often students retain more when they learn about something that interests them rather than something they have to learn.
One of the main goals of educators everywhere is to see their student “be the best they can be”. There are many reasons that a student might not be able to learn or participate in a class like the rest of their peers. Whether it be a condition they were born with, or one due to an illness or injury, technology can accommodate each individuals needs. Advances in technology provide an opportunity for children, and adults, who would have otherwise been left behind.
It is important to consider that when a teacher uses new technology with students they are learning more than the curriculum content. They are also being taught how to use technology. If children use things like computers and internet at a young age they will quickly become comfortable using different technology. This is important because the majority of their lives will revolve around technological advances. The sooner they become use to it the sooner they will excel.
It is important to note that not all aspects of the changing learning environment are positive. One of the major issues teachers will face is the question of evaluating student learning. If students are allowed to work at their own pace than tests in the traditional form won’t be practical.
A problem that begins to arise at the junior high level and continues to be a concern right through post secondary education is the act of cheating. Not all students cheat with the intension of doing so, however many more are tempted to if the opportunity is there. An excellent example is my grade 12 math exam. One portion was done on the computer and students had to drop their completed document into a file on the network. The teacher forgot to set the proper restrictions and it was possible for students to go into the folder and open any student’s exam. Teachers must always be one step ahead and remove as many temptations as possible.
While the use on new resources can be fun and exciting it is important to remember that the information and concepts being taught are still most important. Technology is good however the knowledge behind the technology is equally important. A good example is many people lack basic math skills because the calculator does the work for them. It’s quite sad that when these devices stop working people have difficulty doing everyday tasks such as giving back correct change at the grocery store.
Homework is a normal part of education that is used to teach a variety of things. One problem that arises when advanced technology is used in the classroom is how homework will be completed if the child doesn’t have access to the resources at home. It is unfair to assume that all children will have the same access to technology outside the classroom. Teachers need to structure their classes so that this work can be completed during class time.
Teaching with technology presents some unique opportunities and some unique challenges. When in the classroom setting it is important to remember that the media you use must be age appropriate and students should understand how to use the tools. A student having problems operating the computer should not be the reason that they don’t know the science lesson. With careful work from teachers and administrators, the modern classroom should include many of the technological advances the world outside the classroom uses on a daily basis.
Parkay, F., Stanford, B., Vaillancourt, J., Stephens, H. (2005). Becoming A Teacher (2nd Can. ed.). Toronto: Pearson.