Technology Integration In K12 Education/Technology in Encore Classrooms

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

The 21st century is without a doubt the century of technology. Our world runs on electronics and the current population is continuing to make advancements in this area and is progressively becoming more advanced technologically. This technology is reaching all areas of daily life from businesses, to homes, and into our schools, public and private. In an educational setting these technology advancements have started to change the face of technology integration in classrooms. Just within the last 15 years computers have been made available in schools for student use. And within those 15 years a multitude of advancements have been made; overhead projectors have turned into projectors connected to computers, VHS players with low quality video have transformed into high definition DVDs and videos online, classes can be taken via satellite or completely online, and instead of just handwriting tests and lessons, typing and computer lessons have been added to curriculum. In addition, chalkboards and whiteboards are now slowing being replaced with the newest technology of SMART-boards, and assistive technology for students with disabilities are being developed and utilized. All of this technology is now being found beyond the general education classrooms. Technology is being utilized in the art room, gymnasium, and special education room or resource rooms on a daily basis.

The Arts Education[edit | edit source]

How Technology Can be Used in Arts Classrooms[edit | edit source]

Arts classrooms include regular visual arts classes as well as music classes including choir, band, and orchestra. In all of these classrooms, technology has been placed on the back burner and made less important than hands-on, interactive activities. However, with technology becoming more and more prominent in the lives of students, arts teachers should integrate technology into their classroom to amplify student interest in these subjects. Starting with music education, many different options of technology are easy to incorporate into the music classroom that are fun and interesting for students to use.

An easy way to bring technology into the music classroom is by incorporating electronic keyboards into a band, or even a choir classroom. It's a fun way for students to hear many different styles and learn their scales in a way that is educational and musical. Electronic keyboards have been used in music classrooms for years and many students may already know how to use them. One way to make using electronic keyboards in the music classroom a little more advanced is by combining them with the use of a composing software. With this type of software, students will learn how music is layered and how important creating different interacting parts can be to create a beautiful piece of music. Allowing students to create their own music can have many positive outcomes. Students will be interested in their music, because the music will be their own. This allows to the student to explore different music styles and be proud of their final project. Student composed music can also be shared with everyone ranging from classmates, to family members, and all the way to international students. Sharing music is a great way to get student connected with the world and get other excited about music too[1].

The visual arts classrooms are another great place for technology integration. Technology has become more and popular in the art classroom as the demand for graphic design and digital photography has increased. There are many other ways to incorporate technology into the classroom that may seem a little remedial but still have an impact on students. Technology as simple as PowerPoint or even Smartboards can be a great addition to any art classroom. By making these interactive tools accessable to the students, students will feel like their learning is relatable and fun. One of the best ways to still achieve the hands-on art experience while also incorporating technology into the art classroom, is to make online portfolios with students. This is a great way to instill confidence into your students and also help them build their college resumes if they are planning on persuing a field in the arts. This is also great for elementary students. By simplifying the idea and creating an online gallery instead of individual portfolios, students will be able to share their artwork with friends and families. These online galleries and porfolios are also a great way to show the community just how important art is to the lives of students[2]. .

Problems and Challenges in the Arts Classroom Settings[edit | edit source]

Integrating technology into art and music classrooms can pose some serious challenges and problems. For one, technology styled projects can be time consuming and challenging for some students to master. The best way to avoid this is to have fewer technology related projects in these classrooms. This will allow for more time to complete the projects, as well as allow time for trouble shooting for students who are finding it difficult to understand the software. Another challenge facing technology in music and art classrooms is budget. Unfortunately for a lot of schools, music and art budgets are the first to be cut. This could result in a lack of support to get computers for the classroom and the software needed for project creation. There are options for teachers to purchase software at a minimized price, but even then some schools just can't afford new software and later updates.

One of the biggest challenges with integrating technology into the arts classes is the lack of hands-on activity that these classes are used to working with. Music and art are two classes that rely stongly on students creating. Whether this be painting, drawing, or sculpting in the art class or writing and playing music in the music classroom, arts teachers are just not interested in losing the hands-on technique used in the arts classroom. A lot of arts teachers have shyed away from using technology in the classroom because of this. Even though the primary basis of these classrooms is to provide a hands-on approach to creating and learning, technology can still be apart of this experience. Art teachers may find that by integrating technology into the classroom in even the smallest of ways will make all the difference in getting their students motivated and excited for the hands-on portion of their lessons.

Opinions of Current and Future Arts Educators[edit | edit source]

Being a future art educator I am in full support of integrating technology into the classroom. I have had some experience working with technology in the art classroom, and I find that student are excited to work with technology and enjoy the break from the usual hands-on creation aspect. I have had experience using SmartBoards as an instruction device, as well as using PhotoShop and PowerPoint to create digital photography and presentations. At the same time I still feel that the art room should be a place where students create in a hands-on way for the majority of class time. This approach is one of the aspects that makes visual art classes so unique and expressive. By keeping this in mind while still having an open mind to the opportunities available with technology, I feel that any art teacher can get students excited about a subject that has become a "hobby" type subject.

Direct quote from future music educator Anna Lussier: "Technology has been used a lot in music classrooms, and I don't see that changing! Technology has helped improve how we can meet standards for listening, analyzing, notating, and composing music. Simple things like listening to recordings can go a long way to help expose students to other music and professional musicians. A lot of music educators record rehearsals and performances, use music theory software programs, and use notation software for composition projects. In my clinicals, we mostly used listening devices such as cd players for the biggest use of technology. I haven't had to create a lot of technology projects at all, but through most of my music classes, I have found notation software to be extremely useful for composing and arranging projects. One con has to do with notation software. If a teacher never requires students to learn to notate by hand because they always use the software, the students are never really meeting the standard of being able to notate music. Also, they can use the program as a crutch to better understand rhythm, beat, meter, etc because of how the program stops them from incorrectly notating these things automatically. Another way teachers use technology that can be a detriment in the long run is substituting recordings for live performances. Yes, recordings give us a wider range of possibilities, styles, and levels of skill to listen to, but we also have a responsibility to teach students appreciation of performers and music in a live performance setting."

Physical Education[edit | edit source]

How Technology Can be Used in Physical Education Classrooms[edit | edit source]

Technology seems almost paradoxical to integrate into the physical education classroom. How can a class based on activity and movement utilize technology? In this case educational technology needs to go beyond the SMART-boards and computers. Heart rate monitors (HRM) and equipment for geocaching are the two most common types of technology found in physical education classrooms. Students can wear the monitors to record heart rates during class activities and can check their heart rate at different times throughout the class to make sure they are in their target heart rate zone. For example, if I student is doing a cardiovascular activity they can determine if they need to work harder or slow down based on these measurements. Geocaching utilizes Global Positioning Systems and can fulfill orienteering curriculum in schools, rather than the use of compass and paper navigation. There are areas in physical education where computer based technology, like SMART-boards, can be used. At higher schooling levels when entering the curriculum of knowing how recreational actives, such as recreational sports, are played and set up SMART-boards can be used to diagram playing fields and simulating plays or the process in other recreational activities. These approaches can give visual learners a different approach to physical education and HRMs and geocaching equipment can provide students with additional outlooks on physical education.

Problems and Challenges in Physical Education Classroom Settings[edit | edit source]

With budget cut increases, the biggest challenge of technology in the physical education setting is money. Quality educational HRM and geocaching equipment are expensive, and little technology money in schools goes to these types of technology. The main reason being the amount of curriculum used for this technology is not large enough for the amount of money required for the equipment. However, there are now many grant programs such like the Carol M. White Physical Education Program which provides grants "to initiate, expand, or enhance physical education programs, including after-school programs, for students in kindergarten through 12th grade" and technology such as HRMs could be purchased through grants such as that.[3]

The main problem with technology integration into physical education classroom is that most of the educators of these classrooms do not believe in the use of technology in an activity based education and do not use the technology at the school that is already available for their use. To combat this, many educators are required to take courses provided by the school on technology equipment available to them. Younger teachers who are just entering the work force are also combating the lack of technology integration into physical education by being of the technology generation and will, with ease, integrate technology into their classrooms.

Opinions of Current and Future Physical Education Educators[edit | edit source]

Kirsten Zuelke, a physical education major at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, is a future physical educator who believes that technology should not be used in the physical education setting and will not likely use technology in her classroom. After being asked her opinion of technology in her future classroom she states, "I don't believe it is necessary to have technology in my curriculum. Most technology that is used in a traditional classroom would be a waste of a school districts budget. If there was any technology used in physical education, it wouldn't be the normal technology in education. The only technology that would be beneficial to physical education would be exercise technology like heart rate monitors, equipment for geocaching, treadmills or ellipticals. Overall, if technology is used in physical education it should be exercise equipment, but technology is not necessary when teaching physical education". Unfortunately, it is easy to see that the challenges of using technology in physical education is what defines the opinions of future physical educators.

Special Education[edit | edit source]

How Technology Can be Used Special Education Classrooms[edit | edit source]

There are a variety of ways that technology can be utilized in special education classrooms. The wide variety of disabilities and individual needs created a large demand for many types of augmentative technology. Stitches, WordQ, pen scanners, and speech generating devices are only a few tools that are utilized by special education classrooms to help students function in an educational environment.

Switches are buttons that can be programmed to perform a specific task. They can be used in a wide variety of ways in special education classrooms. They are a wonderful way to give the students control in their lives. They can be used for anything from communication to controlling a wheelchair. Students with special needs often get frustrated by the limitations that their disabilities place on their ability to communicate or function in the classroom. Access to switches provides these students with a means to control their participation in the classroom. I was placed in an early childhood special education class, and I saw how effective switches could be. At the beginning of the day, the class would sing a welcome song and everyone would say their names. Without switches, the nonverbal students in the room would not have been able to participate. The teacher would record the student’s name and then he/she would press the button when it was his/her turn. There were also students with very minimal control over their bodies. A young boy was learning to turn his head so the teacher placed a switch next to his head. Every time he turned his head and pressed the switch, he would hear his favorite song. It was wonderful to see the ways that switches allowed the students to interact with their peers and their environment.

WordQ is a program that allows students to write by dictating their ideas to the computer. It also predicts words. This is beneficial to students that do not have the motor skills to write or type their thoughts. It is a powerful tool that allows teachers to read a student’s written work rather than always relying on verbal assessment. Verbal assessment is very time consuming, and less efficient than written work. Verbal explanations are often less organized than a paper would be. This program also allows the student to carefully arrange ideas and hand in a product that he or she can be proud of.

Pen scanners allow students to scan written information for viewing at a later time. Students that do not have the fine motor skills necessary to take notes can use this tool to keep track of important information. This tool also allows students with the ability to write to focus on the information that is being presented rather than the physical task of taking notes. In classes that are measuring content knowledge, students should not be downgraded because of their struggles with motor skills or written language.

Speech generating devices allow nonverbal students to speak to their peers and teacher through a computer. The student needs to learn how to effectively use the device, but once they are familiar with the program they can express themselves in ways that would have previously been unfathomable. These devices are wonderful because nonverbal students often understand much more than they are able to communicate. Giving these children voices allows the teacher to know what material needs to be covered and what kind of progress the student is making. This device takes away a large amount of frustration that nonverbal students often feel.

This is only a small sample of the technology available for students with special needs. It is important to identify which tools will be most beneficially for each individual student.

Problems and Challenges in the Special Education Classroom Settings[edit | edit source]

It is often a concern that if students are supplied with assistive technology that they may become overly dependent on the augmentative resources. In certain instances these tools should be used only as crutches to assist the student in achieving his or her educational goals, and then slowly removed so the student can become increasingly self-sufficient. In these situations the teacher must help the student gain the skills necessary to become independent. However, there are other cases in which the student will be able to use the technology throughout the remainder of his or her life. In these situations the teacher should assist the student in becoming familiar with the technology so that he or she can receive great benefits from the tool. Another concern related to augmentative technology for students with special needs is the cost. According to The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004, all students are entitled to a free and appropriate public education. The debate comes in around the word “appropriate.” Cost is not supposed to be a factor in providing the students with the accommodations necessary for educational success, but what tools are necessary and appropriate is a subjective matter. This has been the debate in court cases around the country. The services that must be offered to the students can be compared to a Chevrolet standard verse a Cadillac standard. The school is not required to go beyond offering services that will provide the student with an appropriate education. There is no exact or concrete answer as to what is appropriate, but rather it is something that needs to be determined when making accommodations in each student’s Individualized Education Program.

Opinions of Current and Future Special Education Educators[edit | edit source]

As a current Elementary and Special Education Major at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, I have seen what a wonderful difference technology can make in the lives of students with special needs through my placements in special education settings. The students’ disabilities have created road blocks on the path to learning, but technology can create a new path. There is no clear answer as to what technology should be provided for each student, but it is important that the needs of each child are specifically identified. The student must be provided with services that allow him or her to excel in his or her education and life.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

With the 21st century becoming the age of technology, teachers must be prepared to integrate technology into their classrooms. Students are becoming adapt to working with technology and old teaching practices are becoming more and more "old-fashion" as the world of technology grows. It is the teachers responsibility to adapt to this ever changing technology surrounded world, and provide their students with technology based lessons and projects. Beyond creating interest and enthusiasm for learning, technology can also be a useful tool for students that can not participate in in classes the way a typical student would. The use of technology can create a life long interest in a subject or a life long tool to assist in the trials of life. This doesn't just include the regular curriculm classes like science, math and english but also the Encore classrooms. By incorporating technology into arts, physical education, and special education classrooms, teachers can be assured that students will be motivated and excited to participate and be motivated about their education.

References[edit | edit source]

Cain, Tim. "Theory, technology and the music curriculm." Cambridge University Press 21.2 (2004): 215-21. Print.

  1. Cain
  2. associated content
  3. Carol M. White Physical Education Program