== Introduction ==
Technology plays an important role in today’s elementary classrooms. Integration of technology in the classroom is more of a recent development but it has come a long way since it was first used in the classroom. Throughout this piece we will be covering the history of technology, issues with it, positives and negatives found, and the future integration of technology in the classroom.
== Definition ==
The definition of technology has changed over the years. In 1828, Noah Webster defined it as, “a description of arts, or a treatise of the arts” (Webster, 1828). More recently in 2008, Merriam-Webster defines technology as, “the practical application of knowledge, especially in a particular area” (Merriam-Webster, 2008). Technology is only one part of the major concept we are covering
though. Integration of technology in the classroom is the main issue we are looking at.
WCBOE defines technology integration as, “incorporating tools to teach content using effective instructional practices.” The Northwest Educational Technology Consortium suggests that integration of technology depends on three things, teachers are technologically proficient and apply technology to learning activities, students use technology to support leaning, and school leadership supports and urges teachers to use technology in the classroom. Good integration of technology helps students think critically and use their resources to further their knowledge. Integrating technology pushes students to be actively learning.
== History ==
When technology is used in the classroom today students are probably not shocked by it; they would probably define technology by giving examples such as computers, IPods, and Playstations. Technology is so prevalent at home and in school, students may think it was always a part of education. In reality, technology is fairly recent and really doesn’t show up in elementary schools until the late 1900s.
The first vacuum tube-based computer showed up in 1946. This same year universities were researching and working in order to help develop computers. Throughout the 1950s little technology was used in the classrooms. Technology during this time was mostly used for space exploration and warfare. In 1960, Kennedy was elected president and over the next two years promises to put more money into education. The Vocational Education Act was passed in 1963; it gave more money to schools to support the use of technology. The computers out at the time though didn’t really suit the education model that elementary teachers followed, so the computer was still mostly used at universities. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965 gave more money to lower level schools. Still, the technology was not really used in classrooms; it was used for databases in admissions and school counseling.
Finally in the 1980s, technology started showing up in elementary classrooms. In 1981, the first educational practice programs are designed for personal computers. In 1983, the Apple II is accepted into elementary classrooms because it supports teachers’ instructional style. Over the next two years Apple creates tutorial programs and learning games that can be used in the classroom. In 1990, many elementary schools are using multimedia PCs, videotapes and CD-Rom disks. By 1994, most schools have at least one computer, but not all schools have computers that teachers can use for instructional purposes. Within the next couple years the internet becomes popular so schools start rewiring for internet connection. Some schools allow teachers the tools to create a webpage.
After 1997, technology booms. The internet becomes the most popular database; it stores information, graphics and videos. Teachers now have access to abundant amounts of information for instructional purposes. Search engines allow teachers and students to search and find information easily. Web pages cluster similar information which makes the information organized and easy to follow. It is important to show students how to use the internet if integrating it into a classroom. Students should know how to use their resources appropriately. The internet can also be used to integrate internet-based activities into the classroom. These activities are fun for students and allow immediate feedback. Another way to integrate the internet into the classroom is through blogs. Teachers and students can communicate through the internet. This may help students become more comfortable with sharing their ideas. The internet opened many doors for technology integration in the classroom.
Computers also start to hold more memory. This allows teachers to prepare instruction and save it before teaching. In 1997, PowerPoint changed drastically. It is now a great tool for teachers and students to use in the classroom. PowerPoint is set up in an organized format. It is a way to present information clearly and in sequence. Sounds and graphics can also be added to enhance the slides. PowerPoint is not only a great resource for teachers. It can be used for students’ projects and students can use PowerPoint to compile their information. It is a program that is easy to use and presents information in an organized format. PowerPoint often serves as a great discussion starter, and Excel is also a fantastic program for teachers and students to use. Excel turns statistics and data into charts and graphs. This way, students can visually see collected data in a way that makes sense. Excel is a great interactive piece that is easy to use and produces results that are easy to read.
Computers and internet are resources for all people to take advantage of. In the 21st century, technology is specifically developed to aid teacher instruction. Integrating technology in the classroom not only benefits the students, but also the teachers’ instruction. A major advancement in technology that is most recently used in education is the Smart Board. One way the Smart Board can be used is to project PowerPoint presentations for the class. This allows the teacher to prepare the information before the instructional session. It also allows students to come up and interact. Students can write directly on the PowerPoint. It allows students to think aloud and work together as a class. The Smart Board also has multiple applications. There are applications that enhance almost any lesson. By using these applications, students can come up to the board and figure problems out. An example of one application would be the cycle of a butterfly. The stages might be all mixed up and it is the students’ job to move and arrange them. Applications like these are only a click away for teachers.
== Advantages of Integrating Technology in the Classroom ==
Technology plays a key role in today’s classrooms, homes, businesses and anything we can think of. Many people are still getting used to the new enhancement, but being knowledgeable in this field will help them in today’s complex, highly technological society. Specifically, there are many advantages of integrating technology in the classroom.
Almost every teacher can have problems trying to motivate their students and engaging them in activities that will benefit their learning. Technology can certainly help with this issue by engaging the students and creating a more exciting learning environment. One popular classroom object is the well-known computer. Computers can benefit not only the student, but also his or parents or relatives, and also the teacher. Computers allow students to learn through exploring the internet and by completing research using online journals or websites. Researching online can save a student time and they can look up far more information in a shorter period of time than they would be able to if they were reading a textbook or encyclopedia.
The internet is not the only useful resource on the computer. The well-known Microsoft products have become very popular in today’s classroom. Students who may not like writing can type their paper on Microsoft Word. There are also many other more complex Microsoft programs including Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Excel. Students can create their own PowerPoint presentation including text, graphics, animations, and much more to teach a concept or lesson. Viewing a PowerPoint is a lot more exciting to watch than a simple poster or lecture. It brings attention to each important point and the graphics keep the students on task and listening. With Microsoft Excel, students can enter data and create graphs to look for patterns in data sets. They can also create equations needed for math problems. This program can benefit students who are struggling in their math courses and who need a visual representation of the information. A new idea called "podcasting," or creating media files, has also benefited many students across the nation. There was an article from Education World that talked about a school using podcasts in Kentucky. The media specialist created a program called "Race to 500," with a goal of having the students create 500 podcasts for the school website. This process of recording their book reports brought the students closer and allowed for great student interaction. The students were very proud of their work and all their podcasts encouraged reading. Some of the parents even took part in this program.
The use of computer programs is also a great tool for teachers. Instead of lecturing from a notebook or writing math problems on the board, teachers can use computers to better display their information. They can create a PowerPoint to teach a lesson in any subject, or they could use the Microsoft Excel program to display graphs for math class, or equations for a certain problem. Another popular website for teachers is “YouTube.” There are millions of videos related to many different topics on this website. Showing a short video clip related to the lesson plan is a great way to start the class because it gets the student interested and ready to learn about the new topic. It is also a great tool for those students who may be visual learners.
Another helpful tool that has become popular for schools is a school website. This website is helpful for students, their families, and also teachers. Teachers can post grades on here, they can post newsletters or important information, and they can also make announcements about upcoming athletic events or club meetings. This online website allows important information to be accessible to everyone. It also saves a lot of time and money because paper copies are not needed.
== Disadvantages of Integrating Technology in the Classroom ==
Although technology can play a key role in our classrooms and has many advantages, there are several disadvantages to consider. First off, many schools do not have the funds to have luxuries such as computers. Schools in certain areas may be lucky to even have one computer per classroom, let alone computers for each of the students. The lack of computers in a school district brings up the issue of scheduling and rotating the students so they will all be able to work on them. This rotation can lead to a less integrated classroom because the students would be divided. It can also lead to less class participation if the students are not all working on the same activities.
The aspect of maintaining the technology can also be very time consuming and can get very costly. Technological difficulties can ruin an entire lesson plan if the teacher solely relies on the technology. These difficulties arise often and are a huge downfall to integrating these new programs. They can be a teacher’s best friend but a lot of the times things will not go as planned. It takes time for teachers to be specialized in the use of technology and this is also another downfall for this issue. For example, a very new and highly popular fad; the “Smart Board,” is a very difficult program to get acquainted with. This interactive whiteboard is considered one of the biggest breakthroughs in technology for the classroom. Of course it can help students to learn, but there are many disadvantages including the time it takes to train the teacher and the many technical difficulties that will arise from using this. Sometimes classroom teachers have to outweigh the pros and cons of technology to be sure they are not wasting their student’s time or keeping them from learning to their full potential.
Another big issue is the reliability of the information given from the internet. The internet can give timely feedback which can promote better learning, but the feedback is not always reliable or usable in some cases. Having to start over with a search can be time consuming and can take away from class time. Teachers and principals also need to take time out of their day to block any inappropriate websites accessible to students.
Although certain programs or websites may seem more appealing than regular textbooks, they can hinder our communication skills in the classroom. Certain programs can lead to less student interaction or student and teacher interaction. Students may rely solely on expressing their thoughts on a computer instead of sharing their ideas with a classmate. Communication skills are vital to every person’s career and each student will need them throughout the rest of their lives. Technology can help with some aspects of learning but we need to remember that there are other ways to learn and that interacting with our peers is a very important part of school.
== Future Direction of Technology in the Classroom ==
There is a project, called "The Classroom of the Future Project," that aims to discover what the future classrooms of education are going to look like and the technologies that they are going to use. It is funded by the National Science Foundation. This project aims to both develop and use new educational technologies within the future classroom. Research that is being conducted focuses on the impact technology can have on students and teachers rather than focusing on how students and teachers can develop new technology. This research project is split into two categories, which are technological and educational, specifically in the early childhood classroom.
Within multiple kindergarten classrooms, technologies such as MusicBlocks were implemented. MusicBlocks are toys that allow young children to create their own musical compositions by manipulating and rearranging physical blocks. When using this technology, children are asked to draw a picture and say what they like or do not like about the technology. The children are then asked to describe what MusicBlocks of the future would look like. Once again, the goal of this study is to decipher what the classrooms of the future will look like technologically. By asking students what they like and dislike about current technology, we will get a picture of what future classrooms will have available for their students.
The idea of paperless schools has also been highly anticipated and whispered about for many years. It would have to be through the use of technology that paper could truly be eliminated from the classroom setting. In one paperless classroom, students were equipped with PDA devices that connected to a home control given to the teacher. All paper assignments and tests were administered to the students using this technology. Not only is there a push for paperless classrooms due to the environmental benefits, but also as a way to have students become more comfortable with utilizing technology before they reach the business world.
In order to implement this kind of paperless classroom, teachers would need to get familiar with software that allows for secure testing, such as Examview. These types of software are continuing to evolve and will play a key role in the future classrooms of tomorrow. Many districts are looking for ways to eliminate paper waste and lower budgets, and this is definitely one way to reduce long term costs within the classroom while incorporating technology.
Another way technology in the classroom is being looked at is through the lens of making complex topics easier for students to understand. Many people argue that the classrooms of tomorrow will use technology to reduce the amount of time it takes to convey minute details, but instead it will make larger points easier to digest. Ways to assist this thought process in our future classrooms include computers, ELMO projectors, SMART boards and wireless capabilities. Specifically, students will not just need to be exposed to computers within schools or the classroom but on a personal level. Each student would need to be provided with a personal computer that is consistently updated with the latest software for instruction and programs which assist instruction for the duration of their educational career. Teachers will also need subsequent training in order to serve as a resource for technology in the classroom. ELMO projects and SMART Boards are also technologies that all classrooms will most likely be equipped with. These screens easily play music, video and give access to visual stimuli otherwise not readily available to all students in present classrooms.
It is important that in future classrooms, the students’ needs and knowledge acquisition are fit to the technology they are being exposed to. In a world where students are using YouTube to learn, those students will not absorb as much information from a textbook as previous generations would have done. Future classrooms will have videotaping equipment where students can convey their knowledge in a new and technological way. Also, students have found new ways to communicate with one another that don’t involve face- to- face interaction or a paper and pencil. Future classrooms will implement virtual conferences, wikis and other social networking sites that allow students to communicate in a completely new way with people sitting next to them in class or sitting in a classroom half way around the world.
Some individuals also believe that the future of technology will end up in the hands of those that will be using it. Utilizing ELMOs, computers, and social networking sites will depend upon how future students want to learn. We are being bombarded with ideas of how future students should teach one another and focus on discovery learning rather than explicit instruction conducted by a teacher. Only time will tell what our future classroom brings in regards to technology, but it is important to remember that all of these speculations derive from the idea that technology is going to be an educational foundation in our near future.
== Conclusion ==
In conclusion, as future educators of America we are forced to deal with the ever changing world of technology. We will all undoubtedly be forced to use technology that hinders the growth of our students but on the other hand explore new technologies that will enhance the concentration and knowledge acquisition of our future students. It is our job to keep an open mind and give plenty of feedback to appropriate administers in our schools and districts. We will have the ultimate control over whether new technology will hinder or help our future classrooms. Whether or not these new inventions, techniques, and software make it into our classroom before they become old-hat is another concern that all future teachers will face. As future teachers we need to push our districts to invest in new technologies that give our students an edge above the rest; we need to be advocates for technology and give our students the opportunities they deserve in regards to technology in the classroom. Overall, as future teachers, we need to keep a clear, open mind towards technology, the role it is going to play in our future classrooms and the effect it is going to have on our forms of instruction. Technology is not going to slow down so we need to give a conscious effort to be aware and knowledgeable about new technologies as they become available.
== References ==
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