Integration of Technology into Classroom Instruction

BY DR. VIVIAN H. HAMPTON and DR. BARBRA F. MOSLEY

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:

  • Increases students’ overall motivation for learning
  • Assists in planning and developing lessons
  • Offers teachers several options to differentiate instruction
  • Provides varying learning experiences for diverse students with multiple learning styles (i.e., teachers can target students’ preferred modalities of learning)
  • Increases access to extensive information from varied sources
  • Offers opportunities for multimodal instruction (i.e., supplemental instruction incorporating linear and nonlinear textual sources).

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.

  • Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
  • Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
  • Model Digital-Age Work and Learning
  • Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility, and
  • Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership

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:

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Technology Operations and Concepts

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

Numerous possibilities exist for infusing technology into classroom instruction. Following are recommendations:Prepare and deliver instructional presentations and demonstrations

  • Use MS PowerPoint, Prezie, etc. to create interactive-engaging presentations

Demonstrate discipline-specific concepts and processes in action with video

  • Use Windows Movie Maker, Camtasia, etc. to create content specific videos
  • Use YouTube, TeacherTube, Hippocampus, etc. to locate specific videos to support instruction

Promote students’ writing

  • Use the spelling and grammatical features within MS Word to promote writing skills
  • Use Blogs, Discussion Boards, etc. to increase writing skills, critical thinking, collaborative engagement, and other similar activities

Facilitate research and information fluency

  • Create online scavenger hunts to include the use of various Search Engines (e.g., Google, Bing, Dogpile, etc.) that guide students to content specific information

Utilize multimedia tools for special student projects

  • Use Digital Cameras to collect images that support any instructional activity
  • Use Handheld devices (e.g., iPods, PDAs, MP3 players, etc. ) to create or play audio and/or video files

Engage students in Web-based activities using Internet resources to promote literacy

  • Encourage students to listen to online books to stimulate reading
  • Create free online websites using Weebly, Google Sites, etc.

Develop varying tests, quizzes, and other assignments and activities to assess students’ learning outcomes

  • Create free online quizzes using QuizStar, ProProfs Quiz Maker, etc.
  • Create rubrics using RubiStar, iRubric, etc.
  • Use Zoomerang to create surveys

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

  • Fair Use Policy awareness, Acceptable Use Policies or AUP
  • Privacy Factors (i.e., obtaining appropriate consent for the release of student-related work, photos, etc.)

Reliability of online information (e.g., web site evaluation, audience appropriateness, etc.)

Additional information is available through the following resources:

Reflections

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.

On March 19, 2012, posted in: Career Center, In the Classroom by

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