Technology is any electronic tool (not just hardware but software too!) that enables a person to efficiently and effectively 1) compile a person’s work and achievements, 2 2) communicate information and ideas, and 3) develop media that can be used in repetition. By efficiently, I mean that the technology should save time for a particular task. For example, when I create an electronic presentation, I know that I will be saving large amounts of time over rewriting a lesson on a white board. Technolology should also be an effective means of communication. People are drawn to vibrant visuals and black and white writing falls to the side. Drawing one’s attention is a large part of what technology is in the classroom. 1) Technology allows a user to compile large amounts of information, drawing from text, visual, and even audio, video, and interactive modules. The same information in an analog, or paper form, might take hundreds of pages to convey the same message. Even on paper, the audience’s lack of attention may not get them past the first page! By using technology, a user can spend more time putting his/her ideas into a digital format and less time typing, copying, writing, printing, etc. Technology takes care of the grueling work and the user is able to put his/her ideas together more efficiently and effectively! 2) With computers being connected in the late 20th century, we have been able to share information and communicate much more rapidly than ever before. Technology is the tool that enables us to do such efficient work. Now, we have multiple users compiling information and creating much larger and more effective lots of information. Look at a wiki or a forum and you can easily see a lifetime’s worth of work in one place, created in far less time. 3) Technology also enables users to complete repetitive actions. For example, my Physics students run a velocity lab with data input hooked directly to a computer. By having the computer capture, sort, analyze, and graph the data, students can run the lab several times. By quickly repeating measurements, human error is eliminated and the lesson’s objective is attained. In a similar analog-type lab, my students spend approximately ¾ of their class time setting up the trials and recording data. Repetition via technology allows users to be more productive. Integrating technology across curricula is important for many of the reasons stated in Prensky’s article. I will not go into each reference but one that struck me was the quote in which a high school student complained of “having to power down” in school. Myself, being on the border of Digital Immigrant/Native, I feel the same way when at school. The human brain has so much untapped capacity. I do not know the exact percentage but something like 90% of the brain may be unused. Whatever the case, over time, the human brain has been able to gather, process, and utilize more information. Our “hardrives” are not full yet! I think technology is an avenue (a very fast avenue!) for feeding the brain’s large capacity. A student might read a book on the Revolutionary War over several weeks and understand the basic timeline, key battles, key people, and reasoning of the American and British sides. In contrast, think of the same information in a one-hour video or a visually stimulating interactive computer game. Now, a student can gather the same information; have fun doing so, and have more time to gather new, exciting information on something else. I find myself feeling the same way. I used to read books. Now, I turn on the TV, flick to the science/learning channels, and watch an
hour of high definition programming that still takes my breath away (and I have had HD for over a year!). So, instead of spending hours looking through books, doing research trying to conceptualize something I do not understand, I have it all in front of me over a short period of time. Then, I move onto the next topic. In school, processes run slowly. The lunch line is slow. The teacher writing notes on the board is slow. There is not enough stimulation for seven hours of school. I, too, feel disconnected. I am addicted to technology. I need constant, new information or better ways of understanding how things work, how things came about, how to do something better. These feelings I have and those our studentsâ€™ surely have are a great opportunity for us teachers to regain the interest of our students. We need to keep the attention by stimulating them in ways technology allows. The best thing I remember about middle school was a computer program on a five-inch floppy disk called â€œOregon Trailâ€?. The amount of information in that computer game did not compare to what the teacher could convey in a month.