“We believe that students learn by doing, and they are the most engaged when they are doing…. The goal here is for students to have the ability to think critically, and communicate clearly, with an advanced level of preparedness for the academic and career paths that await them beyond these walls.” — Jesse Bean, Impact Academy of Arts and Technology (McKenna, 2014).
The term “technology integration” can be misleading. Although one may believe that the focus may be technology and technical support, the true emphasis is students’ learning and supporting their learning with technology. Rather than a set of devices being the focal point, the culture and strategies made available through the technology is more important. For example, technology makes it possible for both students and teachers to take different roles in the classroom. Students are encouraged to take control of their learning, while teachers become facilitators, advisors, or guides for students’ learning. With these changes within the teacher-student relationship, teachers are able to reach more students and learning is more impactful and lasting to the student (Shaffner, 2007a). Technology unlocks opportunities for students to explore content at a greater and deeper level, often times in a real life context. Collaboration with classmates or even experts, in or outside the classroom walls, is made possible through online communication. Integration allows students and teachers to create environments adapted for personalized growth and learning. These environments are “necessary for students to develop the skills to succeed in college, career, and life”, and may “effectively address the opportunity gap” of low-income communities (McKenna, 2014)
The problem, however, is that simply handing technology to teachers, students, or both will not bring out these changes. A student’s familiarity with technology will not guarantee that they know how to use it for learning. Although the teacher may no longer be the “sage on the stage,” their knowledge and expertise is a crucial component to the students’ success. Students must be taught how to use technology to take charge of their learning appropriately, responsibly, and effectively (Shaffner, 2007b). The proper use of technology in the learning process goes beyond technical knowledge; it must foster a culture of risk-taking, leadership, collaboration, exploration, revision, and creativity. Students are given the opportunity to explore and solve problems, model real life data, and create products to demonstrate unique solutions. This heightened learning process has proven in research to diminish behavioral issues and increase engagement (Edutopia Team, 2008).
Technology integration strategies are based on the research of both directed and constructivist learning theories. Remarkably, Roblyer explains how these two opposite viewpoints can be used together to solve different problems, based on the specific needs of the students. The Constructivist Model supports the student-centered learning environment and the development of 21st century skills. Students are not only expected to collect data, but also summarize or even synthesize new data in creative ways. However, the Direct Model provides strategies necessary to develop more traditional educational needs, such as working on foundational or prerequisite concepts, or rote work. These models, together, allow technology integration and educational technology to be used to support student learning in many areas, including engagement, experimentation, communication, skill practice, and critical thinking (Roblyer, 2016).
Edutopia Team. (2008, March 16). “Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are Many.” Retrieved July 5, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-introduction
McKenna, B. (2014, January 28). “Student-centered learning approaches are effective in closing the opportunity gap.” Retrieved July 5, 2015, from https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/news/articles/1137
Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching (Seventh ed., pp. 49-50). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.
Shaffner, M. (2007, November 5). “Why Do We Need Technology Integration?” Retrieved July 5, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-importance
Shaffner, M. (2007, November 5). “How to Integrate Technology.” Retrieved July 5, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-implementation