In conclusion, I believe that media and technology are too prevalent and important to be ignored in the classroom setting. While there may be many barriers and hesitations as to why teachers do not wish to immediately adopt certain technological tools, there are many steps to overcoming these hurdles and being more aware of the changing landscape of K-12 schools. Teachers all now have the responsibility of facilitating the learning of their students, as it is the students themselves who can now actively control parts of the learning process. Media is an incredible avenue for building skills and acquiring knowledge in new ways. Increasingly, learning and media/technology are becoming inseparable, as each year reveals so many more amazing advances to this ever-growing field.
There are many reasons for schools to hesitate in employing educational technology into the classroom, especially when there are barriers preventing teachers from getting on board with technology integration. Brush and Hew, in their academic paper “Integrating technology into k-12 teaching and learning: current knowledge gaps and recommendations for future research” outline various reasons why K-12 schools are often unwilling to adopt the latest technological tools. For example, they list resources, culture, knowledge and skills as some of the potential barriers. Then, they identify certain strategies for technology integration along with recommendations for future research. Like most researchers, they mention that there is no clear standard definition for technology integration due to all that “technology” has come to encompass. The article also mentioned that in the United States, school districts reportedly spent “7.87 billion on technology equipment during the 2003-2004 school year.” That was a decade ago. Peggy Johnson, the author of the post “Now Is the Time for Digital Tech to Transform K-12 Learning,” writes that technology is even more crucial now to advancing the learning of students in the classroom.
One of the primary reasons for advocating the use of technology in the classroom is that it is a 21st century skill that will be extremely relevant to students in their futures no matter what career paths they choose. Furthermore, technology helps students collaborate, gain problem solving skills, see different perspectives, and understand how their actions have both local and global implications. The K-12 landscape is constantly undergoing changes, as educators are coming to reimagine education given all that new technology offers to the learning potential of students. Johnson, as a self-proclaimed “engineer-turned-tech evangelist” argues that “in many ways, mobile is a democratizing force. It empowers us. It inspires us. It extends our reach.” Education programs must equip students with key skills and one of those include media literacy and the ability to make sense of all the knowledge at our disposal.
Hew, K. F., & Brush, T. (2007). Integrating technology into k-12 teaching and learning: current knowledge gaps and recommendations for future research. Springer, 55(3), 223-252. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11423-006-9022-5
An Introduction to Technology Integration
Last year, Edutopia released an inspiring video that interviews teachers and students to show how technology makes learning fun and meaningful for kids because of this ability for students to create new media. In the words of a K-8 teacher, “when you are creating ownership of your learning…if you were able to translate the content into your own something to share…then that’s amazing.” One of the most incredible parts of incorporating technology into the classroom is the chance for students to understand how something they produce on their own can having meaning to someone across the globe. Technology has enabled people to connect to the world in the ways people had never imagined, and it is not only adults who are communicating with one another. Kids can now have an authentic audience for their work, and knowledge that it is not only the teacher who will be grading their papers. Rather, others who stumble across the content they create will read it and value it. Asim, a fifth grade student who uses technology in his classroom, notes with enthusiasm that there is a chance students around the world can get to see the videos he and his classmates are making. These fundamental transformations in learning are huge motivational boosts to kids, and helps increase academic outcomes.
Another interesting aspect of this video is how it highlights the role of the teacher and how that has shifted. According to one of the teachers interviewed, “the teacher is really a facilitator” who understands that students need to find enjoyment in their own learning. As another teacher says, “it’s not about the mode of creation, it’s about the process and look on [the students’] faces, the fact that they can stay focused, motivated and engaged.” Making learning enjoyable has been a task teachers have faced for centuries. While teachers can go quite far on their own in advancing educational aims, the aid of technology helps them take their goals even further.
Edutopia. (2012, December 12). An Introduction to Technology Integration [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d59eG1_Tt-Q
Education researchers commonly investigate the effectiveness of tech tools on student learning by providing statistics and results in their reviews. Alan C.K. Cheung, for his peer-reviewed article “The effectiveness of educational technology applications for enhancing mathematics achievement in K-12 classrooms: A meta-analysis,” studied a total of 74 qualified students for his analysis and claimed that this review focused on studies that “met high methodological standards.” Cheung’s findings suggest that educational technology produced a “positive, though small, effect” on the learning of students.
I think that it is important to have unbiased reviews like these because many companies will falsify some information in order to sell their products. Many tech program companies claim that students will see huge increases in their learning by using their systems, but this is not always the case in the actual classroom. Teachers and parents should educate themselves with these more academic articles because not everything on the news can be trusted to provide the most accurate information about the products they plan to purchase. Researchers at universities are typically excellent sources of unbiased data given that they have highly detailed procedures, access to large demographics, and skill at interpreting the information they collect. While no study is perfect, analyses like these help shine light on the true effectiveness of edu tech in classrooms.
Cheung, A. C. K., & Slavin, R. E. (June 01, 2013). The effectiveness of educational technology applications for enhancing mathematics achievement in K-12 classrooms: A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review, 9, 88-113.
As part of the required reading for this course, we have had to watch and read reports by Vicky Rideout and Common Sense Media that studies examples of technology platforms used by children ages zero to eight. Rideout is interested in showing how prevalent media and technology are in the learning processes of students, as her studies have shown that “52% of children have access to newer mobile devices such as smartphones, video iPods, or tablets in their homes.” Other researchers such as those working for Scholastic and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also seek to compile data pertaining to media use. For example, they surveyed 10,000 public school teachers asking them if they felt technology engages students in learning. The infographic below shows that only 5% of teachers disagreed.
According to an article on Edweek.org, the Federal Communications Commission reported that “97% of American public schools had Internet access in 2010.” Given that almost all schools have a level of technology in their classrooms, the question is how much of it is being used and to what exact effect on the educational goals of the institution.
As the Shakespeare quote of the title reads “Nothing will come of nothing,” I similarly believe that in order for teachers to greatly improve the learning of their students, they have to risk using more highly advanced technologies in the classroom. There are so many innovative programs to choose from that encourage students to be creative in their understanding of course material. One amazing tool now at the disposal of students is the NOBLE Virtual World project that is a 3-D virtual world computer program that allows students to learn through creating and collaborating with other students. As we have learned in this EDU130 course, collaboration and creativity are essential to children and learning. Agency is also extremely important, which is why these virtual games are so beneficial in helping students imagine certain concepts. With these new initiatives in programs like NOBLE, students can even reenact the moon landing or the signing of the Magna Carta on their tech devices. Performing such activities on a tech device is more memorable and less time consuming than planning an entire lesson plan around those subjects. Given that engagement is a huge indicator of a student’s ability to do well in a class, teachers should seek to boost their students’ level of engagement by discovering which technology platforms can enhance their learning in the classroom.
10 Essential Tips For Meeting Tech Needs of Low-Income Schools is a blog post that compiles the advice given by teachers and researchers so faculty and administrators of other low-income school can have a better sense of how to implement new tech tools in the classroom. This article is primarily for educators who understand the benefit of technology in creating a more engaging learning experience, but are hesitant or simply unaware of how best to strategically introduce tech programs.
I think that one of the most important pieces of advice for educators is that “tech should compliment not replace.” It would be easy for teachers to give students programs to play with but unless students are being monitored, it is doubtful that the program will be able to increase the students’ motivation and learning. Programs such as ST Math have proven to be effecting in supplementing in-class learning because the class can then get both the computational and algorithmic side of math and the conceptual building aspects. ST Math was also ideal for the diverse students at this school because the program was designed not to be English language dependent, and was great for students who were more visual learners. There are tons of educational media and technology available for students to use, but it is up to teachers, administrators and parents to research and understand exactly which programs will be the most beneficial for their children.
Schwartz, Katrina. “10 Essential Tips For Meeting Tech Needs of Low-Income Schools.” MindShift. KQED, 18 September 2013. Web. 24 Nov. 2013.
How Two Struggling Schools Got Two Different Results With Ed Tech is a blog post by KQED that describes how using technology in the classroom is not always the best idea due to the expenses of time and money. For example, in a Title I middle school in East Oakland called Elmhurst Community Prep, teachers reported wasting way too much time trying to figure out how to use the devices they ordered for the students. Furthermore, due to low wi-fi signal, students were unable to access the webpages from the new systems, thus putting pressure on the teachers to come up with a different lesson plan on the spot. In the words of Cori Schneider, a special education teacher, technology was great at first because “the kids were into it and they were seeing their success that was then translating into a higher SRI [Scholastic Reading Inventory] reading score.” When problems started outweighing the benefits, however, the school principal Betlach complained, “We threw a lot of money down the drain; and it’s embarrassing and it’s sad and it feels gross.”
As mentioned in this post, a large part of the issue is that ed-tech companies pitch products that fail to remedy the actual problems that students face. The use of technology in the classroom is supposed to free up more time for teachers to spend with some of the struggling students, but not all programs can be seamlessly integrated in the curriculum without setbacks such as the time attending to problems with the systems.
Schools have found varying levels of success with implementing technology which leads to the question: what are some ways to avoid potential pitfalls of introducing technology to the classroom? In the next blog post, I will highlight some tips given by educators and researchers in the field.
Schwartz, Katrina. “How Two Struggling Schools Got Two Different Results With Ed Tech.” MindShift. KQED, 10 Oct. 2013. Web. 23 Nov. 2013.