1 Reflections on the Integration of Technology in the Classroom Running head;
Reflections on the Integration of Technology in the Classroom Ryan Hainey Chapman University
2 Prior to beginning my work as a student in EDUC 649 my view of technology in education was that of a naïve advocate; “technology is an enriching extension of the human capacity to communicate and generate knowledge…of course it should be a part of a system of institutions with a nearly identical teleology!” This attitude was prevalent as I grew through my single subject credential coursework and became manifest during my student teaching and professional life as a newly appointed life science teacher at a continuation school. ‘Students will become technologically literate by experiencing a curriculum entrenched in digital mediums with assessments challenging students to use, create, and present their content knowledge in a manner showcasing their abilities and acquired skills with electronic media.’ This sentence, uttered countless times aloud, in writing, and in thought, was and still is my perspective and goal for technology in education. The classroom of my student teaching on the surface appeared to embrace technology, with a smart board drawing all attention forward, a document camera available for use, and digital media being frequently incorporated into lessons, however these initial appearances, like most first impressions, evaporated once time went on. Students were presented with technology but never used or engaged with any of the devises at their disposal. In response to this my early instruction included interactive polling (i.e. polleverywhere), online assessments (Google forms), and kinesthetic use of the smart board (student completed drag and drop activities). Technology made instruction interactive indeed, but did it lead to improved academic outcomes? My classroom today utilizes these same tools and this question still persists. My appetite for technology in education continued to increase prior to beginning this course, with a personal longing to use chrome books and Google apps as a persistent part of my classroom. I aspire to obtain the resources necessary to make this possible on day. Positive aspects of teaching with technology
3 Reflections on the Integration of Technology in the Classroom Instruction becomes interactive and multidirectional Traditional direct instruction and assessments follow a familiar linear path: students receive input from teachers or students produce output received by the teacher. This unidirectional disjunction between teacher and pupils unintentionally results in education being a passive, nonreciprocal process of filling mental receptacles and checking their contents. With the use of technological tools, such as interactive polling and Nearpod, the educational divide becomes a conjunction through which instructors and students actively participate and contribute to the learning process with the result (in my experience) of increased student engagement, interest, and (sometimes) performance. Interactive polling, conducted using digital resources such as clickers and polleverywhere, enables an instructor to present multiple choice and constructed response questions to their audience whom can respond and view their submissions instantaneously. As a teacher, this resource provides an immediate formative assessment used to target areas of student deficiency or to begin fruitful class discussions with preconceived assumptions and pertinent inquires laid bare on display. For students, this anonymous submission system turns direct instruction into an interactive discourse as the student’s knowledge and voice is heard and made a collaborator of instruction with each response. Another tool with a similar multidirectional affect is Nearpod, an online interactive software with the ability to ‘push’ images, videos, and surveys to learners on demand whom can respond to surveys, draw pictures, and submit responses viewable by the instructor as they are sent by the class as a whole. This medium builds on that of interactive polling in regards to student engagement by allowing the teacher to ‘push’ individual student work to every students devise and also by increasing the inputs students can provide, such as drawing images. These additional resources offered by Nearpod showcase student work as part of the instructional process, effectively bridging the divide between teachers and students pedogologially.
4 Achieving technological literacy as a function of instruction The educational process, amongst much else, has an inherent dual nature of developing content knowledge and acquiring the skills needed to comprehend, obtain, and create the content knowledge being investigated. Regarding the second aspect of this process (skill sets) using technology as a part of an educational curriculum enables students to achieve technological literacy, or the ability to effectively use technology to obtain, use, evaluate, create, and communicate, as a component of their education. For instance, for a performance task students can be challenged to create a website using Wix or Google Sites to create a portfolio of what they have learned during a unit or from a research project. While the content demonstrated from this task may be similar to that of a handmade poster or science fair display, the employment of website creation enhances student learning in a multitude of ways. First and foremost, students learn how to use digital mediums such as websites, web browsers, and search bars, as well as how to create them, imparting students the ability to use these domains in the technological future landscapes they will likely find themselves in. Additionally, students learn to communicate in new ways through images, hyperlinks, videos, and other digital resources providing them new avenues to express their voice and ideas. Lastly, students become aware of the powerful resource the Internet can be when utilized effectively, giving them an asset which can be used to accomplish seemingly any task. Providing meaningful differentiated instruction When working with five periods of 40 students, teachers are given the seemingly insurmountable challenge of providing individualized instruction to each of their 200 unique and diverse students. Through typical modes of education, this task is near impossible to accomplish (or at least this teacher will admit so), but with technology differentiated instruction begins to appear as a possibility. Imagine the following scenario: students are presented with a unit
5 Reflections on the Integration of Technology in the Classroom including topics and guiding questions and a medium with videos, text, hyperlinks, games and assessments, all of which are completed by students, at their own pace, until the subject matter has been adequately mastered. Using a teacher created website and voice thread, this scenario can easily be created in any classroom. Teachers can create websites containing any and all forms of content delivery and create assessments that are required for students to re-learn and retake until they have mastered content. In this way, teachers can provide students a multitude of varying educational inputs and give students the independence to discover and use what method of instruction works most effectively for them. Additionally, as students do so on a devise such as a chrome book in the classroom, the teacher is able to observe and provide individual assistance and feedback as appropriate for that specific students needs. Enriching instruction through inquiry or project based instruction Too many times I have found myself reflecting on the effectiveness of my instruction with the gnawing somber thought that my students would understand a scientific subject more robustly had they discovered it on their own, through their own thinking processes, rather than from me, their teacher, demonstrating the way the world works as they are first introduced to a subject they may never have given any thought to. In a perfect world science students can learn inside a lab or in the field, but within the constraints of a classroom emulating scientific discovery often resides within the lines of a scanned worksheet or a video from the 70â€™s. Thankfully, technology provides a porthole into how science actually works, through discovery, with the availability of tools such as games, live streams from scientific projects such as the international space station, and digital lab recreations that accurately replicate animal dissections. Negative aspects of teaching with technology Technology is expensive and constantly changing while school sitesâ€Ś.
6 All of the benefits technology offers come at a cost, literally: Chrome Book $200 each, Smart Board $500-$1,000, ipads $500+, etc. (NOTE: All prices are gross estimates from what people have told me, hence the lack of a citation). These hefty expenses are compounded by the fact that technology is under constant revival and upgrades, rending devises recently purchased obsolete more rapidly as the years go on. These fiscal aspects make the implementation and integration of technology in the classroom difficult, through one can simply declare that with funding these negative aspects disappear. Unfortunately, public education has, and foreseeably will continue to, encounter budget shortfalls preventing the purchase of technology. Further, new technology requires professional development to train teachers how to use it in meaningful ways, which itself is costly and, from experience, frequently ignored by senior teachers. Maintaining a respectful online environment Technology in the classroom can be used for students to communicate with one another by email, discussion board, and social media. These domains are as easy to police as the Internet itself, namely, impossible. When using such technology students, particularly students whom are minors, may post statements and images that are prejudice or that may bully other students. Monitoring students to prevent such behavior is difficult using technology, for email communications are private by design and social media/discussion boards operate both within, and without, the classroom. Given the limited power teachers have using these modes of technology, and the likelihood of students exercising the freedom these technologies offer them in unsavory ways, technology provides a potential negative to education by opening up the possibility of unpreventable hazing when used. Unreliability of technology At the time of this writing, my school sites Wi-Fi was down for 3 hours, the microphone on my phone broke, and the Internet at my apartment has blinked a yellow siren of denial for the
7 Reflections on the Integration of Technology in the Classroom past 6 hours. These and other potential shortcomings of the dependability of any technology is a negative aspect of integrating digital mediums into education because when any technology fails to function, so too does the lesson it carries. For instance, lets imagine that a teacher created the following lesson plan: 1. Review vocabulary with Quizlet 2. Give direct instruction with a Prezi 3. Use Nearpod to formatively assess students 4. Student’s work on group projects using Google drive. Now imagine the classrooms Internet was down this day. Every aspect of this teachers lesson plan, being Internet dependent, has ceased to function. Being left in front of students with nothing to do for 55 minutes, other than being the makings of nightmares, is a potential hazard of using technology, for it can be unreliable compared to conventional methods of teaching such as worksheets and textbooks. An antiquarian lesson is indeed better than no lesson at all. Like totes lol omg ttyl and other cryptography Technology literacy, being a literacy, brings with it its own language and culture which some (not the author) may argue is a hindrance to students learning proper English grammar and diction. Digital domains of communication such as social media, text messaging, and Gchat have developed their own form of communication through abbreviations including ‘lol’ (laugh out loud) and ‘ttyl’ (talk to you latter). By tasking students to engage these mediums some teachers may view such practice as encouraging the use of such abbreviations rather than using ‘traditional’ English communication. Conclusion The use and integration of technology in education enables additional positive dimensions to learning unique to the digital domain but also carries with it potential hazards to the educational process. From the analysis presented above, it can be conclusively evaluated that the benefits of technology in the classroom, from engaging students to facilitating technological literacy, far outweigh the potential harms of online hazing and technological unreliability, for a
8 multitude of reasons. Positively, students are and foreseeably always will be immersed in a technologically rich world demanding from them the capacity to acquire, use, and create information in varying digital mediums. As such, teaching to and with these skills prepares students to meet the challenges their future lives will demand. Additionally technology in education transforms a classroom into a multidirectional, engaging, collaborative space conductive for multisensory, differentiated, and high-order thinking instruction. The negatives of using technology in the classroom are not unique to education, in fact, they are issues students already encounter regardless of how much technology is used in the classroom: technology breaks down and social media, as any social discourse, includes the potential of possible encounters with others whom may act inappropriately. Because of this, these negatives are considered an unavoidable aspect of life and treated as such. To an educator undecided on the use of technology, I would invite such a person into my classroom to experience first hand the effectiveness and ease of use of technology in public education. Additionally, I would ask the educator what subject they teach and co-create a technology-based lesson in their specific subject area to make technology applicable to themselves while also teaching the use of a specific technology. Lastly, I would encourage the educator to explore through trial and error different types of technology until this person discovers what works for them.