Technology in the classroom, fad or here to stay?

If you have been following my blog you can see that I am passionate about integrating technology into the learning environment.   I’m not the only one preaching the use of technology to prepare students for the world in which they will live and work.  It takes just a search on the Internet to see that this is a popular idea which is gaining followers everyday.  I wonder though is this just a new fad in the education world or is technology here to stay?  What is all the hype about?  How does technology improve the learning that happens in the classroom?

Personally I believe technology in the classroom is here to stay.  If used in the proper way, technology integration helps students in ways that would be difficult or nearly impossible to duplicate in the traditional classroom.   I have already discussed why I believe technology should be integrated into the classroom in my post, “Why InTECHgrate?” so I will not discuss this area here. However, it is important to mention the main reason we need to integrate, which is to prepare students for the ever changing world in which they will be living and working in.  As stated in the video presentation “Did You Know?”

“the top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 didn’t exist in 2004… We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist… Using technologies that haven’t been invented… In order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”

This task becomes the crux of a shift in the way students should be learning.  It is no longer enough for schools to teach facts (albeit sometimes still necessary).  Facts are easy enough to find on the Internet.  With advances in wireless network technologies as well as devices which make use of these new networks, facts are a pocket away.   If memorization of facts is no longer enough, then what?  What are the skills that need to be taught?

While actively discovering within my own Personal Learning Network (PLN), I stumbled upon an essay  Would You Hire Your Own Kids? 7 Skills Schools Should Be Teaching Them. This blog post discussed seven skills schools should be teaching students.

Critical Thinking and Problem-solving
Collaboration Across Networks and Leading By Influence
Agility and Adaptability
Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
Effective Oral and Written Communication
Accessing and Analyzing Information
Curiosity and Imagination

After reading this article it got me thinking about the best way for teachers to teach these skills. I was reminded of another blog post I read Three Trends That Define the Future of Teaching and Learning.  In this post the author was discussing three trends in education that are changing the face of the classroom to a more dynamic learning community in order to help prepare students to enter the 21st century working environment.  These trends included collaboration, tech-powered and blended.

Collaboration

Basically a learning environment that is more collaborative in nature will give the students the chance to practice skills such as being able to adapt and change, effectively communicate, think critically, solving problems and take initiative.  How many of the seven skills do you see that can be taught just with this one trend?  This article also mentioned the use of social networks as a way of collaboration.  This also factors in the skill of being able to collaborate across networks.

Tech-powered

The next trend is that technology is playing a larger role within the classroom.  Technology helps to grab the students attention and makes the learning environment more authentic and connected to the students lives outside the classroom.  Technology also helps with the first trend as it makes collaboration a more accessible.  No longer does distance play a role in whether or not a group can get together to collaborate on an assigned project.

Blended

This final trend is one that resonated with me the most as it is basically making use of computers along with traditional teaching.  As a tech facilitator, it is my role to assist homeroom teachers in the process of integrating the use of the schools available tech tools into the curriculum.  When the technological tools are integrated properly teaching the skills mentioned above becomes easier.

Along with these trends, another shift that has been occurring in many classrooms, is what is known as “flip teaching” or “reverse teaching”.   I read another post Teachers “Doing The Flip” To Help Students Become Learners, which talks about how the methods used to teach have been changing. Instead of the teacher being the “sage on the stage”  they are becoming active participants in the learning process as a facilitator.   Their role is now more of a guide, helping students become learners.  This new way of teaching involves the use of technology to present information at home while the face to face time in the classroom is used for more productive activities.  Basically this method involves the students watching the presentation part of a lecture or the old style “teaching” part, at home.  The class time is then dedicated to the students actively taking part in problem solving, along side the teacher, who now has more time to spend with individual students.

To learn more about this new emerging trend you can read How the Flipped Classroom Is Radically Transforming Learning

When I read about this “flip teaching”  it made me think of some of the emerging theories of learning which support this type of learning environment and the use of technology such as Situated Cognition, Distributed Cognition and Socially-Shared Cognition.  It seems to me, while technology is a helpful tool in the process of learning, just using technology is not enough.  The use of computers and other high tech tools will remain, just as the whiteboard has become a permanent fixture within the classroom but to make use of these tools properly, one must look at different ways to help students gain the new skills above.

While obviously, I am a proponent of making use of technology in the classroom, I however, also believe, that the technology assisted lesson must have a relative advantage.  If the use of technology does nothing to improve the learning, then the question is why use it?  The answer would thus be, “don’t”.  Good teaching practice is just that, good teaching.  Technology is is only useful if it improves the already good teaching.

When technology is used to assist students in the process of becoming life long learners, help them to plan, organize and create, it is acting as a means to gain the skills to solve problems that we don’t know are problems, in jobs that don’t yet exists.

So will it stay?

In my opinion, it most certainly will.

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7 Comments


  1. The future is fast coming upon us. It looks like you are in the lead to guide the way.

    Reply

  2. I appreciate your dedication. You do such a great job! Keep it as good and you shall overcome all obstacles!. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your commitment.

    Reply

  3. Integrating technology into the classroom is not only here to stay, but is constantly redefining our educational practices. In the K-12 arena, online learning options continue to expand – prompting school districts nationwide to up the anty by offering online learning options and integrating technology into traditional classrooms.

    Not only are technological skills crucial to the workforce, they offer new opportunities to learn. Students can utilize technology in all content areas to enhance their learning experiences. Those of us active in the educational community need to be in learning mode as well so we are prepared to integrate technology into the classroom. Too many teachers are unprepared or ill-equipped to integrate technology into learning in a meaningful way – thus reducing its effectiveness.

    Take a look around – 8 year olds now have their own cell phones, 13 year olds are eager to join social networking accounts, and it can be difficult to pull a teenager away from the draw of the internet. We use technology as part of our daily lives – making it absolutely reasonable to incorporate as a vehicle for learning.

    Reply

    1. Erin,

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I too agree with you about the need for educators to be in a learning mode, in fact the entire school needs to move to a culture of learning and collaboration. I speak a little more about my thoughts on more collaborative environment in my blog post Technology Integration in a PYP School. http://www.greentigercreations.com/intechgration/?p=5. I think along with this new environment, the role of the ICT teacher needs to change as well. No longer should ICT be considered a separate subject. In fact I would even go as far as saying computer labs should be used less. Schools don’t have a special pencil ans paper room, so why do we have a special computer room? Computer usage will best help student learning when integrated seamlessly into the daily learning environment.

      Reply

  4. The use of technology is no longer simply a choice, it is a requirement to relate to our students. This age of the “screenagers” who communicate by text, email, game playing requires that we as educators give them an opportunity to be successful in their edcational endeavours.
    I work with the most “at-risk” students from area high schools. Most of these young adults have quit school at least once before enrolling in our school. Not just here to stay, the use of technology in education is but a mere baby. Thus far we have failed to properly train our future teachers never mind training those currently holding professional teaching positions. I seek guidance and assistance in developing my skills so that I in turn my share my knowledge with my peers. This not just computer usage, it involves multiple levels of technology. HELP PLEASE!!

    Reply

    1. Hi Greg,

      I see that you are working with “at-risk” children. I have written about adaptive and assistive technologies in another blog post. I have also included other posts which tough on these special needs students. http://www.greentigercreations.com/intechgration/?tag=at-risk These sections may help you. Also, I suggest you subscribe to my blog, as I plan to keep adding ideas and thoughts. I hope you find this site a continual support and useful resource.

      Shannon

      Reply

  5. If you can show teachers that using x (technology or whatever) will increase student learning, then it is not a fad and they will use it. However if using x decreases student learning, then of course they will stop using it. The key is to identify what needs to be taught and then finding the best tool to teach it. For instance, when I wanted to teach my own students balancing chemical equations, I tried the usual approach (lecture and worksheets) and found it poor (about 50% of students understood it after 2.5 hours of instruction). From that, I tried paper manipulatives (understanding up to 60%), then tried making a computer game out of the manipulatives (understanding shot up to 100% in only 30 mins instructional time). Then because it was useful, I put the game on the internet for free (Chembalancer http://funbasedlearning.com/chemistry/chemBalancer/default.htm) and now teachers have adopted it and used it to help millions of students year after year because it is useful – it is not a fad.
    The problem comes when trying to apply technology to every teaching problem – it’s like trying to use a hammer for every task (driving in nails, turning screws, attaching pipes …) when obviously for some tasks it is poor. For instance, I don’t use the computer for something hands on like density – a hands on lessons with feeling the masses of things in the real world and a class discussion works much better (see density lesson plan at http://funbasedlearning.com/lessons/density.htm).

    Reply

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