Technology is an essential instructional tool for novice practitioners and experienced teachers across all grades and subject areas. In today’s classrooms, teaching and learning are complemented with technology. In recent years, “new technologies” of the 21st century have emerged on the educational scene as an integral component of classroom instruction and learning. These technologies allow teachers to actively engage and motivate students in the teaching and learning process. It is generally agreed that the present generation of K-12 students have been exposed to a variety of digital technologies all of their lives. As such, it is imperative that teachers not only familiarize themselves with these technologies, but also employ them in the classroom.
Instructional integration of these technologies can only enhance and promote the learning process for today’s diverse student population. Moreover, teachers must recognize that the primary focus of technology integration should not be placed on the technology as a separate entity, but rather, as a seamless tool used to promote learning across grade levels and the curriculum.
Generally speaking, educational practitioners are implementing technology-focused instruction in multiple ways to create optimum conditions for planning and delivering instruction. The following list presents selected outcomes of technology-infused instruction which merit consideration by teachers:
What is Technology Literacy?
Effective incorporation of technology requires teachers to have a clear understanding of what technology literacy is and how it impacts the teaching and learning process. In 2005, a select council attending the Century Literacy Summit defined the term as such: “21st century literacy is the set of abilities and skills where aural, visual and digital literacy overlap. These include the ability to understand the power of images and sounds, to recognize and use that power, to manipulate and transform digital media, to distribute them pervasively, and to easily adapt them to new forms.”
It is clear that this definition gives attention specifically to increased and varied literacy-focused demands on students that are prompted by recent advancements in technology. Furthermore, the term “multiliteracies” is also beginning to appear in the literature related to the nature of digital literacy.
ISTE – International Society for Technology in Education
The National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) developed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) identified five main core standards and performance indicators.
NETS National Educational Technology Standards
Additionally, teachers must also demonstrate the ability to model and apply the NETS for Students (NETS*S) as part of the routine teaching and learning process. The NETS for Students include the following six standards:
More comprehensive information about the NETS can be found at: http://www.iste.org/standards.aspx.
In addition to the NETS for Students, the International Reading Association and National Council of Teachers of English have jointly stipulated a specific, technology-focused standard for students. This standard indicates that “ Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.” A major implication from this standard is that teachers are, in fact, prepared to instruct students to readily utilize varied resources which are technology-driven. The standard further assumes that teachers are integrating technology into their ongoing instruction. Thus, we can no longer disregard the clarion call for all k-12 teachers to become informed about the role of technology in instruction and to move forward with its integration to promote teaching and learning.
Suggestions for Technology Infusion
Demonstrate discipline-specific concepts and processes in action with video
Promote students’ writing
Facilitate research and information fluency
Utilize multimedia tools for special student projects
Engage students in Web-based activities using Internet resources to promote literacy
Develop varying tests, quizzes, and other assignments and activities to assess students’ learning outcomes
Cautions Related to Technology Use
When deciding to use various Internet programs to support classroom instruction, there are important cautionary measures that teachers must consider. Two key factors in this category consist of:
Copyright Issues and Concerns
Reliability of online information (e.g., web site evaluation, audience appropriateness, etc.)
Additional information is available through the following resources:
It is evident from the foregoing discussion that today’s students must be equipped adequately with literacy skills requisite for learning from a combination of traditional, linear-type textual materials and digital, nonlinear textual resources. Additionally, at this juncture, emerging technologies are providing the impetus for reexamining longstanding perceptions of literacy with attention given to specific demands on students for demonstrating competency in digital literacy.
In short, the authors are firmly convinced that current trends in the application of various technologies to promote teaching and learning are likely to remain on the educational scene. Likewise, it is their contention that existing technologies will become increasingly more advanced thereby requiring ongoing professional development for k-12 teachers. Therefore, the authors admonish teachers to bear in mind that technology is designed to facilitate instruction and learning. No technology exists at present which can supplant the constant need for teachers who are well-prepared in their respective disciplines and pedagogy. The teachers or administrators who perceive technology as a panacea for solving the numerous problems confronting educators must rethink the role of technology in our classrooms. Finally, the authors advise all educators to adhere to the notion that technology is perhaps best viewed as another set of tools for the instructional toolkit. To be sure, the most advanced technology can only be employed to make a difference in students’ learning outcomes when competent teachers plan and deliver instruction that effectively and appropriately incorporates the technology.