Thinking back to the high school courses I completed in the 1990’s, it is amazing how things have changed. This is no surprise; we as a society are ever-changing and developing. Things I used to complete by hand, such as my daily planner full of notes and reminders, no longer exist in my daily life. That is because my bulky, inefficient planner was replaced by my iPhone that is easy to use, efficient, convenient, and entertaining. These benefits are also evident in classroom instruction that is improved with technology integration.
As a kindergarten teacher, I assist my students in learning the basics in reading, writing, math, science, health, and social studies. The needs of my students vary based on abilities, needs, deficiencies, experiences, and genetics. A teacher is a busy person in that we need to assist each of the students with all of these thoughts in mind. Technology provides a huge advantage in this area. Providing leveled assistance in math or reading is quite simple when you have an iPad full of varying applications to meet their needs. Previously, I would need to travel to the book store, find a resource, and pay a hefty amount for the resource. This is no longer necessary. For less than $5 I can download several applications to help my students with practice at their level. The savings in time and funds are a relative advantage that cannot be ignored.
When something new and exciting is introduced into classroom practice, students want to discuss with each other. They want to share feelings of enthusiasm and reservation. This increase in student interaction can benefit the classroom climate. The U.S. Department of Education completed a project entitled Technology and Education Reform. It noted, “even when each student has a computer, teachers note an increased frequency of students helping each other. Technology-based tasks involve many subtasks leading to situations where students need help and find their neighbor a convenient source of assistance”. A classroom that encourages this communication will see a positive climate that promotes collaboration and problem solving. These benefits can in turn improve scores and feelings of acceptance in a classroom.
The effects of technology integration have not only improved student interaction with peers, but student behaviors. I have found that students who are utilizing technology in a authentic manner are less prone to mistaken behaviors in the classroom. Edutopia posted an article in March of 2008 that explains the advantages to technology integration. One point emphasized is, “with technology tools and a project-learning approach, students are more likely to stay engaged and on task, reducing behavioral problems in the classroom”. This is a benefit that can lead to better student scores, engagement, and enthusiasm.
The possibilities when utilizing technology in the content areas are endless. Having made this integration a professional goal of mine for the last seven years, I realize that I will find a new resource each week. This constant creation and redefinition of best practice is a positive. Technology puts resources in my hands that are otherwise impossible. Education World posted an article in November of 2000. It states, “No one can afford to take all his or her students to Africa. But computers let them go there, learn about it, and experience it in a way no other medium can.” I find it amazing to observe a group of five-year old students explore the world from the classroom. Many students will not travel the world with their families. They will, however, see whatever they wish with their teacher.
Starting from a students’ experience in early childhood education, they should be provided with opportunities to stretch their mind. Pushing themselves to find answers to complex questions and use higher-level thinking strategies is necessary practice from the very beginning of a students’ school career. Education.com shares effective means in which to integrate technology in the classroom. It states, “If technologies are used to foster meaningful learning, then they will not be used as delivery vehicles. Rather, technologies should be used as engagers and facilitators of thinking”. If teachers utilize technology as just a piece of equipment that students can play with and complete drill and practice activities, they are not being fully integrated. Providing students with opportunities to create, collaborate, and problem solve will provide the rationale for technology integration in the classroom.
The relative advantages to integrating technology into the content areas in our schools are vast. The increase in engagement, collaboration, creation, and student scores cannot be ignored. The decrease in mistaken behaviors, boredom, inattentiveness, and negative feelings towards life-long learning are beneficial to all involved. The tools for this integration are growing each day. It is an amazing time to be an educator.
- Education World: Should Kids in Primary Grades Use Computers? (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2012, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech056.shtml
- Effects of Technology on Classrooms and Students. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2012, from http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/EdReformStudies/EdTech/effectsstudents.html
- How Does Technology Facilitate Learning? | Education.com. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2012, from http://www.education.com/reference/article/how-does-technology-facilitate-learning/?page=2
- Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are Many | Edutopia. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2012, from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-introduction