Monday, September 2, 2013

Technology Integration in the classroom

Technology Integration in the classroom

        The idea of technology is to make life easier and more interesting. Why should it be any different in the classroom with technology integration?
The importance of technology in the classroom is un-parallel to much else in the classroom. Think of classrooms without a white board or a projector. Think of life without email. Technology integration has been underway for many years in the classroom and continues to be just as important and just as challenging.
Photo credit Dell Inc.
Technology in the classroom should make certain concepts easier for the students to conceptualize and more interesting with the variety of the lessons that are now available with the vast amounts of technology.  Communication through technology is easier for teacher/parent/ student contact and should be seamless in the coming future.
The importance for successful technology integration in the classroom is for the teachers as well as the students. There is importance for the student’s learning because a new frontier in education is being discovered thanks to technology.  The vast amount of iPad apps that are now learning-based, 
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educational computer and video games like Leap Frog,
Photo credit Pierre Lecourt
 classroom management cites such as Dojo
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 and safe communication like Remind101 is now creating new possibilities in life and also in the classroom. 
The importance for effectively technology integration for the teachers and some of the new technology that makes their lives easier. For instance the SMART Boards allows for teachers to navigate a website or learning games while standing at the board without having to move back and forth to the computer and it serves for the teacher as well as an interactive board for students to learn on. 
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Another example is Remind 101 for the safe communication for teachers with student and parents, this technology makes reminding people about events or homework easier on the teacher in a 100% safe environment. 
The new technologies are very exciting and requires teacher to be open to learning the new technologies and integrating them into their classroom. In more of a non-direct vantage point teachers using technology can help teach students how to use technology safely. Teachers can have impact as role models for their students. When teachers are using technology in a healthy and in productive way, the internet could become a safer place in the future. The importance of seamless integration of technology is relying of the quality of the new generation of teachers but brings lots of rewards for the students’ predicted and still unseen as well as rewards for the teachers and the school system. 
      Good technology integration is what the modern teacher is. It should look like a teacher who has passion, is flexible and quick on their feet. The lessons plans should be using diverse types of technology and different degrees of new and old technology with multiple learning styles in mind. All of this should be in reality with different type of technology like the iPad apps and class Dojo incorporating with old technology such as calculators and hands on learning as well as lecture pedagogical strategies. All in all successful technology integration in the classroom is technology that is not an afterthought, it is forefront in lesson plans and a dominate part of the modern teachers’ role. Good technology integration in the classroom looks natural. It is not a teacher where technology was an after thought, an accessory or forced into a lesson.

Photo credit Judy Baxter
        The best integration of technology is the NETS-T model in my opinion. NETS-T has a balance between what the teacher should do to better the class, lesson and professional improvement. The equilibrium of pedagogical strategies with technology integration and content knowledge which is TPACK.
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What I like about NETS-T when compared to NETS-S, 21st Century Skills Framework and NC Teacher Evaluation is the NETS-T incorporates "professional development." Which to me, without a teacher that has professional development in technology, what good is that teacher in technology? I think it is important that the teacher take time to learn what they are going to be using in the classrooms. With the professional development, NETS-T includes digital age learning, showing modern digital age work and learning skills, promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility and facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity. All of these seem to balance what a modern teacher should model for their own classrooms.   
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       As for my experience with technology integration in the classroom, in primary and secondary schools I did not have a teacher do well. Not saying that my teachers were not trying and did not teach well! Sadly my school system is just recently getting smart boards in all the elementary schools and mobile laptops for teachers to reserve for their classroom. My classes had 3 or 4 desktops in the back of the room and a projector and lots of overheads.  Some would bring us to the library for research days and bring in the laptop labs for us to use.  Smartphones were banned in my school especially during classes. Most teachers hated them and thought that the integrity of the education system was being insulted with the use of smart phones in the classroom. In contrast my collegiate career has been a far more positive cry from my secondary schooling memories. I have had multiple classes require laptops in class, have had classes use clickers for questions as well as smartphone apps like, GoSoapBox app, for daily quizzes and MOST of my classes use Moodle or WebAssign for information, homework, quizzes and even some tests digitally.
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 I have had some teacher use aspects of a successful integration of technology in the classroom but yet to find a teacher that has mastered all aspects. I hope to be that teacher someday that can have a healthy equilibrium of technology integration in my classroom.
Photo credit Rebecca Levey

        In the sad event that teachers do not integrate technology effectively the results can be ugly. I had an English professor that did not use technology at all. He would ask students to leave immediately if he saw a phone and thought that using phones in class directly was disrespectful to him as a teacher as well as the education we as students were paying for. While I agree texting in class is disruptive and disrespectful, teachers should always be flexible to incorporating new ideas and interactive activities with technology. This professor did not even have a Moodle site and there was no way for his students to check on their grades electronically or check the assigned reading for homework.  Now in my opinion he taught us the English course, I just saw room for improvement in the technology integration and accessibility department. 

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