Integrating Technology : Can be Difficult

March 2, 2009 at 4:24 pm (Rethinking Technology in Schools) (, , )

Integrating technology into the classroom is not as simple as some might believe. It is not merely using various technologies within the school, it requires an understanding if how this technology can be used to meat curricular goals. It is required that teachers use technology to further their students understanding of their subject. Even for the most technologically literate teacher, integrating technology into the classroom can be a challenge.

Schools with higher than average drop-out rates, those with low parental involvement and schools with a large number of student disciplinary problems may find it difficult to integrate technology effectively. Instead of being able to focus on using technology to further their student’s education, the teachers are instead focused on the schools difficulties with their students, not even having time to think about interesting methods of teaching. Technology also creates difficulties with schools, as there are more budget constraints involved as well as security and access challenges. For a school to even consider making technology part of their teaching practice, the budget must be taken into account.

Technology is expensive; computers, digital cameras and camcorders, video equipment, etc. is all extremely expensive. This equipment can also be extremely delicate. Therefore, purchasing such things cannot be taken lightly, and isn’t. Then, once the technology is purchased, there is the difficulty of monitoring who has access to those things. What happens if something gets broken or stolen? What type of websites should not be accessed by students while they are at school? All of this must be taken into account.

For grades 10, 11 and 12 I attended a private boarding school as a day student. At this school there was a mandatory laptop program. Each student was required to have a dell laptop and to bring it to each class unless otherwise told. For my three years at that school technology was a daily part of my life. All of my projects, papers, etc. where done on my computer. My classes in English, history, world issues and some science courses required the use of my computer. I was fortunate enough to have teachers who were well versed in the world of technology, and therefore had the opportunity to learn a great deal about it. We were required to have dell laptops because there were two men who worked at our school who were our IT guys, and because we all had the same laptop it was easier for them to fix problems. When we needed a new part, they were able to quickly order it. They only had to be well versed in the ways of the Dell laptop, as opposed to Macs, Toshiba, etc. These men were also in charge of Cybercop, the bane of every student’s existence. This software allowed them to block things such as MSN, Facebook, Miniclip, etc. while we were using the schools network. If a site was becoming to popular, one day you would type in the sites URL and sure enough, the cursed words “this website has been blocked by Cybercop” would appear.

I was extremely lucky to have had my education so well integrated into technology, however, many of my friends who went to public schools were not so fortunate. While they had computers at home, the teachers could not assume that they all did. Therefore their projects and papers could be done by technology, but they could also always be done in more traditional methods. There was no reason for teachers to be versed in the ways of technology, they merely had projects and papers for the students to do, if the student wished to incorporate technology then it was up to them.

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Technology : Always Changing

February 10, 2009 at 9:11 pm (Rethinking Technology in Schools) (, , )

Technology has been shaping our world for years. From the age when fire was discovered, when we used stones to build, to when we began using metals and electricity and engines. Every year we create new creations, and lately, new models of already invented things. The phone, computer, television, etc. have all gone through remodeling, and it seems as though new technologies are becoming obsolete as soon as you can shell out the money to purchase it.

With such an expanding market and developing technologies what hope can we have for ourselves, as teachers, keeping up with the it, much less our students. However, we are now approaching the new generation of teachers being in the schools. While teachers now have many opportunities to learn about using technology, the teachers who will be employed in schools in the next few years will have grown up with the use of computers, mp3 players, DVD players, computer applications, as well as a profound knowledge of the internet.

While many students have grown up with access to computers and many other technologies, there are numerous students who do not have the means to access such things. Therefore it is extremely important that students have access to computers at schools, and that they are taught how to properly use the computer’s resources.

“Teaching with and about technology is much more complex than the educational climate suggests. Meaningful uses of technology require an integrated knowledge of content, pedagogy and technology and how they work together to comprise learning environments”. It is incredibly important that teachers are given the necessary knowledge and tools and then pass them on to their students. We must be educated to then completely and adequately educate our students.

I only really began using computers at the very end of elementary school (grade 4 & 5) with an introduction to typing in grade 3. However, my knowledge and use of computers was limited to writing stories and book reports on Microsoft word. Grades 6 – 8 (my middle school) were filled with further use of Microsoft word and the Internet. I had essays and projects that needed to be done, but each one only really required Word and the Internet. This continued on throughout High School. Although in grades 10 through 12 I had a mandatory laptop, there was still much to be discovered. I only wish that I had the opportunity to use computers more in school.
There are so many interesting websites and resources now that students have access to; they only need to be shown how. The discovery channel and other such learning websites are at the fingertips. There are applications and games that encourage learning, while are fun and entertaining for the less interested student. More and more schools are incorporating computers into the students daily activities. Instead of just textbooks, students have the opportunity to use both the textbook and the computer. Slowly, but surely an increasing number of students have completely and constant access to these computers. Along with computers in schools come cameras, video cameras, DVD’s, smart boards, etc. While not all schools have access to all of these things, many do. Increasing students’ ability to be creative and technologically proficient.

Therefore, with an increasing number of students who are computer literate it is important that their teachers are too versed in the ways of technology. Without a vast knowledge of all technological practices and the ability to incorporate them into the classroom, how can we hope to educate the 21st century student?

Computers can be incredibly confusing

Computers can be incredibly confusing

A student learning from a computer

A student learning from a computer

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