Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Technology/Internet
The Internet, as defined by Concept to Classroom, is a collection of computers connected in a worldwide network. This means that knowledge can be shared quickly and worldwide with just the click of a button. Does the Internet have a place in the classroom? Yes! The Internet is not going anywhere; its power is only increasing. Teachers need to be able to harness that power and use it to better prepare our children for the “real world”. By integrating this technology into our classrooms one can only imagine the exposure and information our children will be able to gain. Also it makes you think where education will go in the future.
Why Use the Internet?
The Internet is a great tool for every subject. It not only answers questions about assigned work but helps children to formulate their own questions and find those answers as well. It can enhance the impact of a lesson, increase communication, and make presentations easy and fun. If used properly the Internet can engage today’s learner. Integrating technology does not mean using it as a reward for good behavior or a babysitter while you grade papers. Integrating technology means using it as a means of enhancing the lessons you are already teaching. It helps students “move beyond knowledge and comprehension to application and analysis of information” (Dockstader 1999). Today’s learners are fast paced and easily bored; thus, the use of computers helps to keep them focused, engaged, and excited about what they are learning. Computer skills should be taught in conjunction with core content (Dockstader 1999). Students acquire many computer skills just by giving them the chance to explore and create through the learning process (Dockstader 1999). The teaching profession is changing along with the digital age.
According to Don Tapscott, there are eight major shifts:
- Shifting from linear to hypermedia learning
- Shifting from instruction to construction and discovery
- Shifting from teacher-centered to learner-centered education
- Shifting from absorbing material to learning how to navigate and how to learn
- Shifting from school to lifelong learning
- Shifting from one-size-fits-all to customized learning
- Shifting from learning as torture to learning as fun
- Shifting from the teacher as transmitter to the teacher as facilitator
These shifts are a huge evolution and teachers need to be better trained to assist this new style of learning (Tapscott 1999).
|“||The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom.||”|
Domine did a study on children who have access to at least one computer, and use it on a regular basis. She found that students use the Internet at home to look up sport information, chat with friends, download music, watch videos and sometimes to do their homework. The students she interviewed claimed to be “clueless about computers” or “not to be a computer person”; when really their lives revolved around the computer. Although at home, they are pulling from their parents for direction and that guides what they do and how they are exposed to the Internet. These children are digital natives and while they may not be experts on programming they can easily find any information on any topic they are looking for(Domine 2006).
|“||Advances in computer technology and the Internet have changed the way America works, learns, and communicates. The Internet has become an integral part of America's economic, political, and social life.||”|
If students are getting exposure to the Internet at home, why integrate it into the classroom? The job of the teacher in a classroom is evolving with technology. It is our job as teachers to guide children to the “good” information on the Internet and teach them how to discern credible information from non-credible information. Kids themselves realize what a good tool it is, “…the perfect tool for education”, says Junior from Domine’s study. It is also the job of the teacher to connect how the children use the Internet at home to how they use it at school. When used properly it can play an important position in making the curriculum come alive to all students (Domine 2006).
Benefits of Technology Integration
|“||We have technology, finally, that for the first time in human history allows people to really maintain rich connections with much larger numbers of people.||”|
Using the Internet in the classroom has an infinite number of benefits. The four main areas in which the Internet is useful in the classroom are communication and collaboration, research, data collection, and web publishing (NTTI 2006). Students can have access to peers around the world, experts in any field, and information on any topic. When using real-time Internet, students can really see the connection between what they are studying and the real world applications (NTTI 2006). Web publishing is advanced for most teachers but when children get a chance to display their work to the world, they put more effort into what they are learning and are more enthusiastic about projects, as their efforts will show (NTTI 2006).
The Internet expands the up to date resources available to every child. It also gives meaning and depth to what the children are learning from their texts. It can also reduce time and location dependency (Concept to Classroom 2004). For example, if you are teaching a lesson on archeology, after learning background information, students can go to the Internet and participate on a dig or talk with a real archeologist. It helps to bring printed information to life! Schools are dynamic, ever changing places and the Internet is a great tool but as always in teaching, it is up to the teacher to decide what is the best resource to use for any given lesson (Concept to Classroom 2004).
Disadvantages of Technology Integration
One big disadvantage that schools are faced with is cost. Surprise! Technology isn’t cheap! In addition to just buying the computers/laptops, schools need chairs that prevent back injury, they need wireless connections in every classroom, and they need ways to protect the expensive equipment they buy (Kennedy 2007). Schools are already complaining about tight budgets and now we are asking them to contribute thousands or millions of dollars to bring our schools into the high tech world. Will that money take away from buying updated textbooks?
Another worry is that Internet in schools will distract or replace teaching basic skills(Concept to Classroom 2004). This worry can be lessened by having productive training and in-services for teachers who are already in the classroom and good basic instruction for those studying to go into today’s classrooms. Again the Internet should not replace any instruction only add to its value.
Another concern is access to inappropriate and distracting information. We now have fairly strong filtering systems in place to prevent most access to information such as pornography or online (non-educational) games. Also most schools have an Acceptable Use Policy that outlines the rules for appropriate use and consequences for using the Internet inappropriately (Concept to Classroom 2004).
A big concern of teachers is that they don’t have the time or resources to facilitate productive use of the Internet. The school days are already jam-packed and we are asking them to update their plans to include technology they don’t know how to use (Norm L. 2005). And what happens when the technology isn’t reliable?? More support staff and in-services are required to make the most of what tools we have…but again up creeps the money issue.
Best Practices and Helpful Hints
The goal is to integrate technology so that it is adding to our educational value. The skills we are teaching must relate to the content area, the classroom, and they need to be assisting the traditional method of instruction (Dockstader 1999). Teachers need to be comfortable with the media before giving access to the students. Here are seven steps that the Jerome School District used when trying to integrate technology:
- Choose a core area (just one to start)
- Decide what technology skill you want to teach or could be taught in this area
- Choose one lesson that could be enhanced or taught through the computer (start easy!)
- Develop that one lesson in a software package you know very well
- Use it!
- Evaluate how it went, what needs to change for next time
- Refine the lesson and repeat the process with another lesson or core area (Dockstader 1999).
There are so many websites available to teachers for technological support. Use them!! If you have a problem don’t be afraid to ask for help. Use your colleagues as a resource. Most school systems have at least one technology support staff to assist you in learning a new program or executing a new, improved lesson! We, as teachers, need to model that we don’t know everything but we know how to find the answers or help when needed.
As far as technology in our schools is concerned we have come a long way. However, there is still a long way yet to go. We need better-trained teachers who appreciate what an amazing resource the Internet can be in a classroom. We need the money to help all schools have the same opportunities. Most importantly, we, as teachers, need patience and the desire to grow and evolve with the path of education.
Multiple Choice Questions
Click to reveal the answer.
Click to reveal sample responses.
- Domine, V. (Summer 2006). Student attitudes about classroom internet use. Academic Exchange Quarterly., 10, 2. p.104(5). Retrieved September 11, 2007, from Academic OneFile via Gale: 
- Kennedy, M. (June 1, 2007). Adjusting to Technology. (classroom Internet). American School & University., 79, 11. p.NA. Retrieved September 11, 2007, from Academic OneFile via Gale: 
- Dockstader, Jolene. (January 1999). Teachers of the 21st Century Know the What, Why, and How of Technology Integration. The Journal. Retrieved September 6, 2007. http://www.thejournal.com/the/printarticle/?id=14141
- National Teacher Training Institute (NTTI). (2006). Why Use Internet in the Classroom. Thirteen|ed online. Retrieved September 11, 2007. http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/ntti/resources/internet1.html
- Concept to Classroom. (2004). Why the Net? An Interactive Tool for the Classroom. Education Professional Development Standards Authentic Assessment Technology. Retrieved September 11, 2007. http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/classroominternet/index.html
- Tapscott, Don. (1999). Educating the Net Generation. <u>Educational Leadership., 56, 5. p. 6-11.
- Norm L. (2005). When Techies Don't Get It. The Blue Skunk Blog. Retrieved September 6, 2007. 
- Internet In the Classroom. (5/27/1999) Curriculum Sites K-12 http://courseweb.unt.edu/rhondac/classrm.html
- Community Learning Network. Integrate the Internet into the Classroom. http://www.cln.org/integrating.html
- 999 Today. (Aug. 30, 2006.) Teachers want greater Internet access in classrooms. Educations and Acedemia. Retrieved September 20, 2007.