Technology Integration In K12 Education/Challenges of Technology in the Classroom

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There are many types of instructional technology flooding our classrooms today, with promises of increased student interest, better networking, and more effective learning. However, there are also many concerns and challenges that come with this change. This chapter provides a history of technology, various types used in the classroom, and a discussion of some of the challenges to implementing these resources.sabrine


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Technology has been used in our classrooms for a very long time. Even if it did not seem like it was technology, we used it as early as the 1700’s. The earliest records show that the public schools adopted the teacher model with the teacher as the primary manager of instruction and assessment in a single classroom. To us, today, that may not seem like technology, but back then it was all they had to make the learning environment better. Public schools used this teaching style for a very long time. It wasn't until 1946 that the first vacuum tube-based computer was developed. Once the computer was actually introduced to the world, a lot of universities helped in the computer development effort. These universities saw the possibilities that could emerge from using computers, so they wanted to get computers out there and working as fast as they could. During this time technology was used in the war efforts as well.

A couple years later there was still little to no technology being used in schools. The little bit that was being used was the TV. The computer was not fully developed so they got by with using TV’s as their main technology. However, during these years, the baby boomer reign started. The beginning of the baby boom resulted in an increase in class sizes. This created problems such as not having enough teachers to meet the demands of the students. As we know, even today, big class sizes are never good. It is always hard to teach when you have too many students in your class. On a good note, the first generation of Univac computer was delivered to the US census bureau. Then in 1954, General Electric was the first business to order a computer. This was a huge jump in the technology world because General Electric was a pretty big company that put their neck out on a line to buy the first computer. Other people saw this, and believed since General Electric could buy it then, why couldn't they? A year later IBM’s first commercial computer was sold. During this time, the cold war resulted in the use of technology in aircraft design and in weapons control.

Later in 1958, as the cold war continued, the National Defense Education Act brought more money and new technology into schools, but primarily in professional education. This was really beneficial for schools because they were always in need of money, especially for technology. During this time, mainframe host computers were not widely accepted in schools that were still using the single classroom teacher method of delivering information to students. The schools still hadn't found enough evidence to prove that technology was working in the school systems.

In 1963, the Vocational Education Act was passed, which provided even more money to support the use of technology in schools. However, the mainframe and minicomputers in use at that time were using batch processing methods that didn't fit well with the single teacher strategy used in most schools. Although the schools were getting money to support the use of technology, they were afraid of using it and didn't like the way the main frame fit into the curriculum. Around this time, BASIC, a simple high-level programming language was developed, mostly for use in universities to train programmers. IBM 360 family of computers was also developed at this time. Most computers were still using host methods with punched cards as the primary input device. Technology was on the rise slowly but surely.

Later on, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act provided money for technology use in classrooms; but schools still needed to see an improvement with the teaching style. Mainframes and minicomputers were put into place in some schools, but most were used for administration or for school counseling. In 1971, Intel's first microprocessor was developed. The first microcomputers, otherwise known as PC’s, were also developed. Mainframes and minicomputers were in wide use in business and a few software companies began to develop mainframe and minicomputer- based instructional programs which were able to be used later in the school programs.

A couple years later, in 1975, a number of Apple 1 PCs were donated to schools. This created a problem in some schools because they had adapted to the mainframes and minicomputers and refused to consider PCs. A couple of years later, 15 Million PCs estimated to be in use worldwide. Schools were realizing that PC’s were used more often and they could be used more in the school program. PC-based spreadsheets were also developed, but mainframes and minicomputers were still in wide use.

Later in 1981 IBM became the first mainframe manufacturer to develop a PC. Three years later, only 31 states used 13,000 PCs for career guidance, but there were still relatively few computers in classrooms. The Apple Macintosh computer was developed at this time. Computer-based tutorials and learning games were introduced by commercial software manufacturers. This was beneficial because they were creating programs that could be used in the classrooms. In 1985, 25% of high schools used PCs for college and career guidance. K-8 schools bought mostly Apple II and Macintosh computers. Apple was becoming a big hit and it deserved to, because they were increasing the ability to be used with the teacher based method of teaching.

Then in the 1900’s multimedia PCs were developed. Schools were using videodiscs; and object-oriented multimedia authoring tools were in wide use. Simulations, educational databases and other types of CAI programs were being delivered on CD-ROM disks, many with animation and sound. The use of these CD ROMs helped out a lot in schools and was useful in training students how to save data. Later, the Internet and the World Wide Web began to catch on as businesses, schools, and individuals created web pages. Most CAI was delivered on CD-ROM disks and was growing rapidly in popularity. The Internet was widely discussed as businesses began to provide services and advertising using web pages. New graphics and multimedia tools were developed for the delivery of information and instruction using the Internet. Many schools were rewiring for Internet access and a few schools installed web servers and provided faculty with a way to create instructional web pages. Finally technology was becoming a huge hit in schools and helping students to become more involved in the use of technology.

From 1997 to now the growth of the internet has expanded far faster than most predicted. It has become the world's largest database of information, graphics, and streaming video, making it an invaluable resource for educators. However, marketing-oriented web pages, computer viruses hidden within down loadable programs and graphics, and spam threaten its usefulness. Search engines such as Google and Yahoo are constantly developing new ways to find information within the ever-growing number of web pages. Web sites that offer individuals a place to put personal information have become extremely popular, as well as internet-based publishing and discussion forums. Voice recognition slowly enters the computing mainstream, but its development is slowed by an unacceptable frequency of errors. Some computers incorporate TV input, but it is not as common as many predicted. Educational software has become more useful and interesting to students as graphics and video are incorporated. Larger computer storage capacity and the growing prevalence of CD-ROM and DVD drives in personal computers make it easier for educators to store large graphic and video and sound files for educational applications. So as one can see technology in classrooms has changed over time and it has become a huge hit in schools today. Teachers and students can relate to all the information out there. It’s a great tool for everyone to use.

An Overview of Technology History

1870- Magic lantern, slide machine, lantern, projected images that had been printed on glass plates

1890 – Chalkboard

1900 – Pencils massed produced

1905 – Stereoscope, 3D viewing glasses

1925 – Radio, “schools of the air”

1930 – Overhead Projector

1940 – Mimeograph, copier

1950 – Language-lab headset, help students learn languages, in cubicles with headsets and audio tape

1958 – Educational TV, up to 50 channels that included educational programming

1965 – Filmstrip viewer, film projector

1972 – Scantron, eliminated the hassle of grading multiple choice exams

1980 – Plato Computer, averaged one computer for every 92 students

1985 – Hand-held graphing calculator

1999 – Interactive whiteboard, touch screen with a projector

2010 – iPad

Types of Technology

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Because the kids of today are so obsessed with technology, whether it is their iPods, Wii, or social networking sites, teachers need to use technology to keep students engaged and stimulated. There are a number of different tools teachers can utilize.


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Projectors are an essential and beneficial tool that teachers can use. These machines can be hooked up to the teacher’s laptop and will project a larger image of the screen onto a white board. This makes it easier for students to follow along with PowerPoint, a Word document, or even an educational website the teacher may explore.

SMART boards

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SMARTboards are a very recent advancement in educational technology. They can project the image from the teacher’s laptop onto the whiteboard and the teacher or students can digitally draw on that image. SMARTboards contain hundreds of applications and provide graphs and tables that are helpful especially in math and science classes.


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Teachers can use software programs to enhance students’ learning. There are a number of programs such as Advanced Reader (AR) that quiz a child’s comprehension of a book. There are also programs that quiz students on math problems or even allow them to complete a virtual dissection in an interactive lab.

The iPad is a combination of a Mac laptop and an iPhone. The main difference between the iPad and other handheld devices in the classroom is that it has its own software development kit. The iPad has more memory and storage space than the iPhone although it runs on the core iPhone operating system. Because of these characteristics, iPads can be used in a number of different ways in the classroom.

Electronic Textbooks

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Many school districts have experimented with online textbooks, Amazon Kindles, and other electronic reading devices. However, the iPad contains more possibilities than these other devices. For example, students will be able to use dynamic content with animation, video, and other multimedia built right into it. Instead of trying to feed PDF textbooks into portable devices, teachers can build interactive, dynamic applications that students will carry around with them.

New mobile computing labs

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iPads have a number of advantages compared to laptops. For example, it’s much less likely to be loaded with viruses. Also, students get more for their money. The iPad costs 500 dollars but they receive a 10-inch touchscreen device with 16 GB of memory and 802.11n wireless networking (currently the fastest available). An external dock/keyboard combo is also available.

Mobile data collection

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Students and teachers can use the iPad’s larger interface to gather and present significant, real-time data. For example, teachers could carry an iPad from room to room as they make classroom observations, then use real-time visualizations of that data to make critical decisions. Students could use the iPad to collect information on field trips or in science labs.

New ways to create content

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iPads are not just about content consumption. There are also ways to use the iPad in content creation. For example Brushes, a painting program originally designed for the iPhone and now updated for the iPad, is a program which artists can use to create amazing digital works. One image was even used as the cover of the June 1, 2009 New Yorker. iPad also features a program called iWork, which can be utilized to create Keynote slides using the device’s multitouch interface.

Student Response Clickers

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Student response clickers are a lot like TV remote controls and work in the same way. They are able to transmit and record student responses to questions using infrared or radio frequency technology. Student responses are collected and recorded by a small, transportable receiving station in front of the classroom. Each clicker can be registered to a specific student so that teachers know who answered correctly and who answered incorrectly. Clickers allow for active involvement by all students and provide instant feedback. Teachers are aware if students are confused about material that is being presented.

Electronic Portfolios

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What are electronic portfolios exactly? Helen Barrett, an assistant professor and educational technology coordinator for the School of Education at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, defines them this way: “A portfolio is a purposeful collection of student work that exhibits the student's efforts, progress, and achievements in one or more areas. The collection must include student participation in selecting content, the criteria for selection, the criteria for judging merit, and evidence of student self-reflection.”

There are a number of different types of portfolios. The three most common forms are: • the working portfolio, which includes projects the student is presently working on or has recently finished • the display portfolio, which showcases samples of the student's finest work. • the assessment portfolio, which presents work indicating that the student has met specific learning goals and requirements

One advantage of an electronic portfolio is that students can accentuate different segments of the content by creating relevant hyperlinks. For example, a student can link a piece of work to a statement explaining a certain standard that the work has met. Another benefit of electronic portfolios is that students can easily reproduce and transport it. A paper portfolio typically represents the only duplicate of portfolio content.

FM Systems

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FM systems broadcast a signal throughout a given area using a wireless transmitter. Depending on the power of the transmitter, the broadcasting area can reach the size of an auditorium. The teacher wears a transmitter and the student wears a receiver. The receiver is very small and can even be integrated into the student’s hearing device. The signal is fed into an earphone or the student’s own hearing aid from the receiver. Usually the teacher wears a tiny microphone on the lapel about 5-7 inches away from their mouth. When the teacher speaks into the microphone, the student can hear the teacher clearly anywhere in the broadcast area, even if the teacher has their back to the class.

One advantage of an FM system is its portability. The transmitter is small so it can be used in any room. The child has his own receiving device; and no permanent installation is required. Another benefit the system provides is that it can be used to amplify a movie soundtrack or other audio source, not just the teacher’s voice. This makes it perfect for educational use.


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Bellow we will discuss some of the challenges faced when integrating technology into the classroom. An excerpt from Margaret Rice's article lists a few of these challenges which will be discussed in further detail.

"When attempting to integrate technology, teachers typically encounter barriers such as a lack of or inadequate training and staff development in using the technology, knowledge of how to integrate technology into the curriculum, teacher pedagogical beliefs, access to equipment, time to learn technologies, and administrative support (Faison, 1996; Langone, Wissick, Langone, & Ross, 1998; Siegel, 1995; U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 1995)."


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Funding for school technology resources can be challenging.

It is popular belief at this time that technology in the classroom will revolutionize, and improve student learning and networking. While this may be true, putting this change into action presents a practical challenge. Many schools do not have the funding to provide the technology, and if they do, it often comes at the cost of other departments suffering. While funding for instructional technology increases, art, physical education, and music programs are being cut from schools.

There an initial cost of purchasing and installing instructional technology, but one must also consider the ongoing cost of upkeep, updates, and repair to these items.

In addition to the costs listed above, there must be funding for teacher training so these resources can be implemented in the classroom effectively.

According to Thomas Brush, "On average, districts devote no more than 15% of technology budget to teacher training".

Unfortunately, this lack of money being allocated for teacher training leads to other problems.


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While technology can me a wonderful teaching tool in the classroom, it is only effective if teachers are properly trained on how to implement this technology. Sadly, this rarely happens, resulting in minimal use of the technology and wasted potential for it as an excellent teaching resource.

An article titled "Integrating Technology in a Field-Based Teacher Training Program: The PT3@ASU Project", Thomas Brush addresses this issue:

"Despite technologies available in schools, a substantial number of teachers report little or no use of computers for instruction" (p.1). The report also stated that teachers still in struggle with integrating technology into the curriculum, and attribute much of this to inadequate training to prepare them to use technology effectively in teaching... More recent research continues to show that teachers feel they are not provided adequate support to effectively use technology in their classrooms. (Schrum, 1999; Studler & Wetzel, 1999; Topp, Mortensen, & Grandgenett, 1995)."

If teachers aren't properly trained on the technology they are supposed to use in their instruction, it's effectiveness and purpose is lost.

Thomas Brush's article continues:

"This lack of support leads teachers to use technology for low-level supplemental tasks such as drill and practice activities, word processing, educational games, and computer-based tutorials (Strudler & Wetzel, 1999; Willis, Thompson, & Sadera, 1999). As Abdal-Haqq (1995) stated, 'Few teachers routinely use computer-based technologies for instructional purposed' (p. 1)."

Technology training for teachers must begin when they are pre-service education majors. Margaret Rice comments on this issue in her article titled "Transforming Learning with Technology: Lessons in the Field":

"According to Faison (1996), many practicing and pre-service teachers report inadequacies in the types of computer technology programs offered in teacher preparation programs. "They report that they have had no systematic exposure to or integration of technology in their teacher education program" (Faison, 1996, p. 57). Many higher education institutions have provided a single technology course to aid pre-service teachers in gaining technical competence (Hargrave & Hsu, 2000; Hess, 1990), but many of these courses teach technology as an isolated subject and do not provide training in how to use technology in specific disciplines or how to integrate it into the curriculum (U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 1995; Novak & Berger, 1991). Jerald and Orlofsky (1999), noted as few as 20% of teachers reported that they felt prepared to integrate technology into the curriculum."

As an example of this limited pre-teacher training, we will examine the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. Education majors are only required to take two technology courses before entering the field. These classes cover technology such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Google sites, iMovi, Pod-casting, Wikibooks, and blogs. While these are all excellent and valuable resources, is this really enough to prepare a teacher for integrating technology into the classroom? Certainly it is a great start, but more must be done to create a more natural and effective transition from college course technology to classroom application.


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Instructional technology is a wonderful resource, if you have access that is. School websites and online learning tools can be excellent learning and communication resources, but not all students, or parents, have access. Many families still do not have internet access at home due to a lack of technological knowledge. Others may not have the financial ability to pay a monthly internet bill. If teachers rely on online-based communication or learning meant to occur outside the classroom, they run the risk of excluding some students and putting them at a disadvantage. Not only is this unfair to students who lose out on learning, it could be embarrassing for both parent and child. What we can do as educators, is to provide students and parents with information on public resources, such as the library which has internet access, and hope that when possible, their family takes advantage of these resources.


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Throughout history, advancements in technology have brought about immense change in the world of education. However, change also brings about new challenges to follow. While new types of technology make their way into our classrooms, it is important to remember that although the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, there are a number of obstacles educators must take into consideration before implementing these fascinating tools.


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"Integrating Technology in a Field-Based Teacher Training Program: The PT3@ASU Project" by Thomas Brush

"Transforming Learning with Technology: Lessons from the Field" by MARGARET L. RICE

"History, the History of Computers, and the History of Computers in Education"