Reasons for Including Technology in the Classroom
“Technology is no longer an indulgence; it’s a life skill” (Backes, L. 2012). Today in the 21st century, technology has become apart of our everyday lives. It surrounds us (Backes, L. 2012). So naturally, the education system has also adapted to cater for these changes to society. Integrating ICT’s into the curriculum is crucial for many reasons.
Interest – “Kids like the newest things” (Backes, L. 2012). Let’s face it, when we were at school we would all follow a new fad and would beg our parents to have the latest “in thing” that was going around at school. Not much has changed! When a new toy is out, the kids have to have it. Now when I was back at school, a new toy meant a plush toy of some kind. Now if you mention the word “toy” that generally means something that requires batteries, moves on it’s own, plays music….basically, technology.
Practicality – “Technology is now a necessary skill in the workplace” (Backes, L. 2012). As teachers we are preparing our students for life beyond the classroom. We are preparing them to live successful lives. “For citizens in the 21st century, government and public information is increasingly being published in only digital format. Being able to locate, interpret and use this information is going to be an essential skill set for citizens in the future” (Coombes, B. 2009. P.32).
Knowledge – “By teaching them effectively now, you waste less time having to teach them again in the future” (Backe, L.2012). With technology students no longer have to visualise in their heads what we are talking about throughout history and science lessons; we can show them. For example, in science the other day we were discussing bridges and towers. In particular we were looking at how they were built, the structure and materials used. We were also comparing what was used in the past to what is used today. All of my students were highly engaged and then one of them put up their hand and asked “how was the Sydney Harbour bridge made?” I didn’t know the answer to this question so I googled it and then we were able to watch a youtube clip of the building process. We than began to discuss the importance of the structure and materials used and how it would need to be strong enough to withstand natural disasters. The teacher’s aide in my classroom mentioned seeing a youtube clip of a bridge swaying erratically and then collapsing due to a severe storm. Again we were able to look it up and youtube it. Technology is amazing and allows students to experience situations that they would never be able to without it.
Flexibility – “Every child has a different learning style” (Backe, L. 2012). Curriculum differentiation is expected and vital in education today. Technology allows for this as it attends to visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning.
Access – The classroom always has a diverse range of learners. I don’t know any classroom that has a group of students that learn all the same way. “Technology is a dual gift” (Backe, L. 2012). The disabled, ADD children, ESL students, etc. all have access to the same teaching and learning content through the use of technology.
Misconception – There is an assumption “that children born after 1984 have an in-depth grasp and almost ‘intuitive’ knowledge of how to use technology, simply because they have never known a world without the Internet and technological change.” (Combes, B. 2009. P.31). This has meant that students are left to learn the ways of technology on their own by their own experimentation. This leaves a huge gap in the efficient use of information literacy skills, as they have not been taught how to effectively search, analyse, evaluate and inquire through the use of ICT (Coombes, B. 2009).
Pedagogy – Technology enables “learner-centred, student-centred interactive forms of pedagogy” (Pegrum, M. 2012). Whilst our pedagogy has always consisted of these elements, we are now enhancing this through the use of ICT. Technology is supporting what teachers are trying to do already.
Whilst most are on board with the Digital Education Revolution and praise the integration of technology into the curriculum, there are still some people who are not convinced. “Real engagement comes from great teachers with interesting lesson plans. Engagement is about human contact, the contact with the teacher, the contact with their peers” (Richtel, M. 2011). While this statement is true, yes teaching and learning is about human contact and yes a teacher who can gain engagement with interesting lesson plans are effective; technology is a tool to enhance student engagement, motivation and learning outcomes. It is not replacing the teacher! A teacher can still plan exciting and engaging lesson plans that involve technology that enables critical thinking, problem solving, research, evaluation and caters for the diverse learning needs of all students.
I will finish with this segment by Coombes which I found intriguing and highly relevant:
“If schools don’t take steps to teach this generation of students how to use electronic sources effectively, then our future citizens will be unable to operate in a world where information is the key to educational, social and economic success. The world and technology will continue to move forward and the information landscape will become even more complicated, overloaded and dense, as business and government place everything including service delivery online. Far from being digital natives, Generation Y and those who follow, will in fact be the digital refugees of the future” (Coombes, B. 2009).
Backes, L. (2012). 5 reasons to add technology to your classroom. The Inspired Classroom [blog].
Coombes, B. (2009). Generation Y: Are they really digital natives or more like digital refugees? Synergy,7(1), 31-40
Pegrum, M. (2012). Emergent technologies in the classroom. University of WA.
Richtel, M. (2011). A Silicon Valley school that doesn’t compute. New York Times.