Integrating Technology In K12/Advantages of Technology in the Elementary Classroom
With technology becoming such a major part in today’s classrooms, teachers should understand the advantages of incorporating technology into their classroom. Technology plays such an essential role in today’s society and the integration into the classroom is necessary for students to learn. Nowadays, children are becoming exposed to technology at such a young age and in some cases the students know more about the technology in the classroom than the teacher does; this may be beneficial at times, however teachers must strive to stay updated on technology as well and not just depend that students will know everything. Students and teachers can benefit greatly from having technology in their classroom especially starting in the Elementary classroom. Today’s technology can provide teachers, students, and parents with teaching and learning opportunities that were impossible in the past if technology is integrated into the classroom. Integrating technology into classroom instruction means more than simply teaching basic computer skills or software programs; it means using technology as a tool to support learning. There is a wide range of advantages for having technology in the Elementary classroom. A few of them are: better engagement and motivation, better instructional materials, worse communication and interaction, decreased family involvement, and application of real world skills.
Better Engagement and Motivation
The use of technology in an elementary school classroom enhances both student engagement and motivation. Student engagement and motivation are closely related during the learning process because the more students are motivated, the more likely they will be successful and engaged in their learnings. Students who are often uninterested in learning become more motivated by technology. This motivation and engagement can be related to a specific content area in the classroom or new skills gained by incorporating technology. If teachers can see the power that technology has in motivating students, they can use it to their advantage.
According to Paul D Eggen and Donald P Kauchak, “technology can heighten learner motivation by increasing self-efficacy and self-esteem, improving student attendance, promoting more positive attitudes toward school and more enjoyment of out-of-class activities, and increasing student involvement in learning activities. Technology may be unique in its ability to increase learners’ sense of efficacy.” In addition, because of the increased student engagement and motivation, there tends to be fewer behavioral problems within the classroom. Many schools have noticed these benefits within their classroom environments and students.
Sarah Carlyle, a third grade teacher from a small rural school, sees power in technology for motivation in her classroom. Carlyle's focus is on improving her students' reading and writing skills through technology. This is, to put simply, no easy task. To increase her students’ interest in writing, Carlyle used digital pictures of herself accompanied by pieces of her own writing for demonstration. Carlyle then created a digital "story" of herself as a successful author to share with her students in a slideshow format. After modeling this activity, the students then imagined they were successful authors and created a digital story as well. By using digital cameras, the students were more motivated and engaged in their assignment. The photographs allowed the students’ writing to come to life and the slideshow presentation motivated students to try their best. This is just one example of how effective incorporating technology can be in an elementary school classroom.
Increased motivation and involvement can also be found in Cal Washburn’s 4th grade classroom. Washburn teaches history at a rural elementary school. Washburn knows that the “quickest way to lose students' interest in the topic is to open the textbook.” So, to overcome this hurdle, he adopted a “hands-on, minds-on” approach to his lessons. One particular lesson he used with technology was based on Lewis and Clark’s journey. During the first part of the lesson, students used online resources such as authentic maps, diary entries, and history texts to gain information about Lewis and Clark’s trip. In addition, Washburn also wanted the students to experience real life discovery, so he planned a hands-on learning experience he called "geo-caching." This experience would allow Washburn to superimpose a map over the school and then place “artifacts” in relation to important landmarks described by Lewis and Clark. Washburn used Geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning satellite (GPS) to create the maps for his lessons. Then students took historical maps, geographic coordinates, and GPS devices, to work on their artifact discovery. This lesson incorporated technology to bring history to life for the students and engage them in an experience similar to what Lewis and Clark would have experienced.
Another example of increased motivation and engagement due to technology was found in a study on Peakview Elementary School in Colorado. The study showed that students who were exposed to technology in the classroom were more motivated to learn, had increased independence, and were more engaged. In addition, students’ attitudes about school, technology, learning and themselves was positively affected. Teachers at this school also reported that the increased engagement and motivation led to an increase in the students’ success in all subject matters.
These examples, along with many others, show how the incorporation of technology can increase student motivation and engagement. This increase was due to new experiences with technology for the students and an increased interest in the content matter.
Better Instructional Materials
Technology has the opportunity to expand instructional materials beyond a teacher’s wildest dreams. The possibilities are endless for the types of materials made available by technology today.Whether it be technologies available via the internet or software that can be purchased by a district, these resources are expanding and are becoming better and better with each passing moment due to people who are passionate about incorporating technology into the magical process we call learning.
Findings show that learning is best done while being engaged in something. Technology is a great way to give each individual student an opportunity to do just this. With gizmos and gadgets available to the schools, students are given the opportunity to do something on their own instead of watching something being done by an instructor or another student. Some technologies that allow students to do things while learning include resources such as iPads, iPods, SmartBoards, or basic computers. Of course, the list is longer than what is provided here, but knowing that the possibilities are never-ending is something that can boggle anyone’s mind. Technology is continually being improved by researchers and scientists, as well as computer programmers. We can only dream of where technology will take us in the coming years, however, technology is currently having a large focus on the classroom and learning.
According to an administrator at http://www.rememberanything.com/benefits-of-technology-in-the-classroom/#, another positive side of the instructional materials from technology is that they are more attractive looking. With technology comes moving graphics, bright colors, and attractive modules. As students are changing with the times, incorporating entertainment into learning is something that works with kids today. According to Arvind Singhal and Everett M. Rogers (1999), education is being modeled to entertain students while they learn. Technology is something that can hold the attention of students and entertain them while they learn. This is something that research has shown to be effective.
Additionally, a point made by an administrator is that the instructional materials allow for a better self-paced learning. Students are able to go as fast or as slow as they please when going over content. If a student has a learning disability, the curriculum can be self-paced so that the student is going at a rate where they can understand and truly grasp the material. On the other hand, a student who is gifted or talented can speed up the curriculum to meet his or her needs. These technologies are very useful for a teacher to differentiate to students on the speed of course work.
Better Communication and Interaction
Technology has become a major foundation for communication and interaction between the classroom and the student’s home life. At the elementary level, some students often forget what their homework is, when it is due, or sometimes forget papers at school that need parent signatures. In addition to having technology provide these things to students, it also makes them available to parents. With technology being involved, students are able to access classroom websites from home, which may contain their homework or other materials from their classroom. With this tool, parents are able to communicate with their child’s teacher as well. This type of communication allows parents to know what is going on in their child’s classroom. When it comes to communication, as stated on http://www.rememberanything.com/benefits-of-technology-in-the-classroom/, “technology is an excellent tool for assessment purposes as well as advocacy issues between the students and the teachers”. Students are able to do homework or activities online where their teachers can assess them to see if they understand the information taught in class. This is a great foundation that is making it easier for teachers to assess the information that their students actually know.
Peer tutoring has become huge with technology in the classroom. As stated on http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/EdReformStudies/EdTech/effectsstudents.html#peers by a fifth grade teacher, "I've also seen kids helping each other a lot at the computer. The ones that pick it up faster, they love teaching it to someone that doesn't know it yet." Students are communicating with one another more because of technology and in some cases students are getting more out of the curriculum.
With students using more technology they are taking on more of an active role rather than a passive one. The student is constantly making choices on how to generate information not only for themselves, but to share with their peers and the teacher. Communication for the teachers is a big role. They become the facilitator offering suggestions to their students when they are stuck on a certain topic, but with the technology it also gives the students the freedom to be more creative and explore.
Increased Family Involvement
As teachers and school districts look at technology, many view technology as an avenue to increase parent and family involvement in the students’ education. Parental involvement is something that is desired by many teachers, but some do not know how to increase the involvement from students’ parents and families. Technology is an appropriate answer to this serious and difficult dilemma that teachers face year after year when trying to get parents involved. If teachers can see the advantages to using technology to communicate with families and use technology correctly to do this, they will also see improvement within their students. This involvement through technology can manifest itself in many forms: classroom websites, emails, grades posted online, etc. With these tools incorporated into the classroom, families are now more than ever before becoming involved in the education of the student by being aware of what is going on in the classroom.
Telem and Pinto (2006) point out that having a “positive association between home and school is now commonly accepted as necessary for educational progress” (p. 260). This means that home and school need to be linked in a way that fosters a child’s learning. With technology, teachers and parents can foster a child’s learning together and be on the same page.
In a study done in the UK, Lewin & Luckin (2010) found that with technology introduced into the classroom, parents became much more involved in the education of their children. With a program called the ICT Test Bed, parents were given the opportunity to track and pay attention to their child’s progress in school. The effects of this program were allowing parents to see the work of their child and allowing parents to become involved. Also in this study, parents were asked to use technology more. For example, parents were asked to email the schools about absences. This simple use of technology was something that proved to be effective in the running of the elementary schools in the UK. Also mentioned in this study was the use of school websites. Parents were able to be more involved in their child’s education because they were had access to a website that contained information about the happenings of the classroom that a parent may not be exposed to by their child.
Application of Real World Skills
“To live, learn, and work successfully in an increasingly complex and information-rich society, students must be able to use technology effectively,” according to the National Educational Technology Standards. By using technology, even students at an elementary school level are able to gain new and valuable skills. Today’s children are growing up in a world much different from what other generations have experienced in the past. It is a world of computers, software, and wireless access to instant information. Our world now requires a different set of skills to succeed. These skills can include understanding how to use technology, software, and the internet safely, or how to research and learn using technology. All of these skills students can gain by having technology in the classroom and it can be applied to their futures because of our technology based society.
By gaining introduction experience with technology at a young age, students will be more confident using it in the future. According to Beth Gregor, an elementary technology coordinator at Pleasantdale Elementary School, “students of all ages need to be on the computer. It is a real-life skill that will carry them throughout their entire lives. The more familiar I can make computers for my kindergarteners, the easier time they will have using computers as they get older.” In addition to these computer skills, students can gain information about how to use the internet safely and effectively in a controlled environment. Elementary school teacher, Ann Johnston, works with children from grades one to five on their internet skills in a San Diego school. In her program, "The Internet pyramid,” Johnston plans activities which gradually build the students' skills in conducting research by using search engines, pictures, and creating multimedia presentations based of the information they have gathered. These types of skills are very important for students as they advance through school and eventually in their careers.
In our advancing times, technology is rapidly becoming the future. According to James Morris, “students are entering a world in which 60% of jobs will require technological competency- a world in which they must continue to update their occupational and technological skills in order to be successful." As the demand for technological skills grow, it will become more essential that students begin learning these skills, beginning in elementary schools.
As we look at all of the things that technology offers students and teachers, we cannot help but to see the advantages that are offered. Between better engagement and motivation, better instructional materials, better communication and interaction, increased family involvement, and application of real world skills; the advantages are apparent and bountiful. Technology’s advantages are too numerous to name, but this wiki presents the highlighted advantages. Teachers must learn to harness and use the valuable resources that technologies offer so that their classroom can be successful and move forward into the future. Elementary classrooms are the perfect environment to start the use of technology because it is important to encourage knowledge of technology at an early age. Students are becoming more and more technology literate with each passing year, and it is imperative for teachers to recognize the power technology has over children. Of equal importance is the necessity for teachers to keep up with the students. If these two things are realized, the sky is the limit for the advantages of technology that presents. Technology is coming whether teachers and classrooms are ready or not. Realizing that technology is an advantage is giving students a gift if we let the power of technology in the classroom reach it’s fruition.
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