The integration of technology in education is no longer a "new" idea. Because technology has become such an integral part of society, it is necessary to integrate its use in education in a variety of ways. The use of computer technology has moved beyond computer assisted instruction in the form of tutorials or drill and practice. Today's technology can provide teachers and students with opportunities for teaching and learning that were impossible in the past. Computers can be used as devices for communicating with people literally a world apart. They can be used as tools to create instructional materials or as presentation devices to provide information in ways never before possible.

Three advantages have been found regarding technology in the classroom including: 

  • Educators should use technology in the classroom because its wide range of uses and forms has the potential to reach students of all learning styles, as well as be more efficient. 

  • The interest and motivation that technology induces in students makes its usage in schools important. 

  • Educators better prepare students for the future when using technology aimed at addressing each learning style.

Using several types of technology in one lesson can help all students understand initially, alleviating many of the questions that students will have later, as well as lessening the times a teacher must repeat concepts to those who did not comprehend them the first time. The Aspen Institute Communication and Society program notes, "The creative use of these technologies has the potential to engage young people and instill an excitement about learning in ways that few traditional teaching aids and techniques seem capable of doing." They later mention that technological instruction helps students adapt to learning styles by providing a "self-paced... learning environment" that helps all learners to feel less threatened by new material. The simple fact that students exposed to technology will be more comfortable with it later in life is only one of the many reasons to use it in hopes of preparing the for the future. The Aspen Institute of Communication and Society also believes that students learn to control their own behavior when carrying out instruction, make decisions, solve problems, think critically, set goals, work towards goals, and then assess their programs when they have completed the goal, all skills needed later in life. (1)

Computers in the classroom develop important skills. First, in business, the ubiquity of computers makes understanding how to use them essential. The use of computers can help enhance information processing skills. The ability to locate information, distinguish the important from the unimportant, think critically, work effectively in groups and present information in many types of media are all aided by the use of computers in the classroom. 

Extensive studies and model schools have shown that educational technology enhances student learning in many cases. In the "Report on Effectiveness of Technology in Schools 1990-1994," the researchers found that technology can lead to improvement in performance most notably in math, science, social studies, and language arts. When using technology in the classroom, "at risk" students demonstrated:

  •  Improved attitude

  •  Improved confidence 

  •  Improved writing skills when using technology in the classroom (2)

According to Dr. C. Terry Morrow, professor of agricultural engineering and Faculty Fellow with the Center for Academic Computing, of Penn State University, the benefits of technology in the classroom include opportunities to: 

  • Improve lectures

  • Enhance the curriculum

  • Provide visualization in a variety of formats

  • Increase flexibility of presentations

  • Share resources

  • Enable demonstrations of complex concepts

Through the use of advanced computing and telecommunications technology, learning can also be qualitatively different. The process of learning in the classroom can become significantly richer as students have access to new and different types of information, can manipulate it on the computer through graphic displays or controlled experiments in ways never before possible, and can communicate their results and conclusions in a variety of media to their teacher, students in the next classroom, or students around the world. 

Basic skills can be used very effectively as a tutor for students learning basic reading and math skills. Teachers who employ computer assisted instruction can drill students on specific topics for which they need extra help, such as long division or spelling. Since students are able to control their own pace at which they proceed through their exercises, they are neither held back nor left behind by their peers. And the instant feedback that the students receive from this type of instruction motivates these students to continue. (3)

As an instructional tool, technology helps all students--including poor students and students with disabilities--master basic and advanced skills required for the world of work. As an assessment tool, technology yields meaningful information, on demand, about students' progress and accomplishments and provides a medium for its storage. As a motivational tool, technology positively impacts student attitudes toward learning, self-confidence, and self-esteem. Indeed, as the following sections demonstrate, these findings are not trivial and represent the many ways in which technology can be used as a powerful tool for enhancing student achievement.

Technology offers several advantages over traditional methods of student assessment. For example, multimedia technology expands the possibilities for more comprehensive student assessments that require students' active participation and application of knowledge. The immense storage capacity enabled by technology such as CD-ROMs allows schools to develop electronic portfolios of students' work. A single CD can hold exact copies of students' drawings and written work, recordings of the child reading aloud, and video images of plays, recitals, or class presentations. By saving work samples on different subjects at different times during the year, teachers can display them in rapid succession to demonstrate and assess growth.

Technology offers new and exciting ways for their families to increase their involvement in their children's education:

  • Students watch less television

  •  Improve problem-solving and critical thinking skills

  •  Improve their writing and math skills

  •  Improve their computer skills

Parents communicate more with their children and their children's teachers, are more aware of their children's assignments, increase their own computer skills, use the computer for personal and business reasons (such as working toward a GED), and spend more time with their families. 

Technology helps teachers improve their classroom practice by expanding their opportunities for training and by fostering collegial work with other teachers and professionals. Particularly promising to teacher skill development are electronic networks that allow teachers to overcome the isolation they experience in their classrooms. By bouncing ideas off peers and sharing experiences and resources with like-minded colleagues across the country, they are gaining enthusiasm, confidence, and competence.(3)

Numerous studies have demonstrated that technology is particularly valuable in improving student writing. The ease with which students can edit their written work on word processors makes them more willing to do so, which in turn improves the quality of their writing. Studies have shown that students are also better at critiquing and editing written work that is exchanged over a computer network with students they know. And student writing that is shared with other students over a network tends to be of higher quality than writing produced for in-class use only.

Other benefits are documented as well. As schools have added computers, they've reported improvements in their attendance and dropout rates. They've also reported students are:

  • more challenged

  • more engaged

  • more independent

Encouraged to experiment and explore the new frontiers of knowledge through the use of technology, students have assumed more responsibility for their assignments and produced higher-quality work.(4)

Technology is especially appropriate for the enhancement of global studies. It can bring experiences of other cultures vividly into the classroom. Not only does telecommunications allow for interaction between students, it also encourages creative opportunities to be formed by showing the interrelationships among the social studies, literature, art and music. Multimedia classrooms help students move away from "chalk and talk" classrooms to more engaging and motivating processes which encourage higher order thinking. Teachers can have access to seemingly unlimited resources through the Internet, CD ROMS and videos. Both students and teachers can examine issues from multiple points of view and can learn how to deal with primary source documents. The possibilities are potentially endless and definitely exhausting. (5)

  • As an instructional tool, technology helps all students--including poor students and students with disabilities--master basic and advanced skills required for the world of work. 

  • As an assessment tool, technology yields meaningful information, on demand, about students' progress and accomplishments and provides a medium for its storage. 

  • As a motivational tool, technology positively impacts student attitudes toward learning, self-confidence, and self-esteem. 

 

 

  

 

 

Technology in the Classroom, Wes Rodgers