Nowadays it’s difficult to argue against the use of educational technology resources in the classroom. Technology can address the needs of a variety of different learning styles, maintain student engagement, and help teach 21st century skills; however, there are plenty of obstacles schools face to technology integration. Many corporations cite the startup costs associated with the adoption of new technology and claim they cannot afford to embrace each new learning tool on the market. But if implemented properly, technology integration need not bankrupt a school corporation, in fact, it can even save money. Perhaps a more significant obstacle schools face is educating their staff on the importance of technology integration and then providing the support necessary for effective implementation. Fancy devices don’t improve instruction; they are tools that allow teachers to improve instruction. Any school corporation looking to make use of educational technology resources in the classroom should research possible options and ensure they can provide ongoing support to their staff members.
Educational Technology Resources Change the Way We Think of Instruction
Technology integration acknowledges the lives of students and the world in which they live. Teachers who use educational technology resources in their classrooms can enhance their instruction by adding relevancy to their content, showing students how the gadgets they already engage with can be used to extend their learning. These teachers have a dramatically different view of their role in the classroom than more traditional teachers who haven’t embraced such methods. Technology promotes collaboration and discussion, encouraging students to work in groups to exchange ideas. This model differs dramatically from the traditional position of the teacher as the “sage on the stage,” the sole storehouse of knowledge. This is not to say that the role of the teacher is less important. Rather teachers can learn to use educational technology resources to engage and empower their students to become independent learners. It is the teacher who facilitates this process and guides the students in their discoveries.
Using iPads As Educational Technology Resources in the Classroom
Many content standards require students to think critically and independently in an effort to solve problems. It is difficult for teachers to set up differentiated learning opportunities that allow students to excel at different paces and truly work independently. Educational technology resources like iPads make this goal more attainable for teachers, offering numerous ways for students to engage with content through educational apps, web browsing, and social media.
Science teachers can use educational technology resources like iPads to take pictures or video of projects or laboratory experiments. They can also view simulations that they might never have the resources to duplicate in a classroom laboratory setting. iPads can be used as state-of-the-art lab notebooks, documenting every step of their experiments and their efforts to conduct real science. Any media that is recorded can then be shared and reviewed with the entire class for discussion. Teachers will inevitably have to teach safe and appropriate use of all educational technology resources, and, just like in traditional classrooms devoid of instructional technology, they must maintain engaging lessons to prevent the temptation students may have to play games or use their devices for off-task activities.
Tips for Successful Integration of Educational Technology Resources
Prepare pre-service teachers
Colleges and universities preparing students to become teachers typically either offer one general course in technology or a content-specific technology course that helps them develop strategies for implementing educational technology resources in the disciplines that they will teach. The latter approach is preferred since it adds more relevance to the coursework.
Research appropriate timing
Corporations should consider the most effective ages to introduce new educational technology resources to. For example, many corporations find that the upper-elementary grades are optimal times for new adoptions of 1:1 technology since students still spend the majority of their days with a homeroom teacher who can help facilitate appropriate use of the devices across different disciplines.
Plan ahead and involve teachers
Before any integration, schools must determine what educational technology resources will be used, how the quality of teaching will be improved, and how time will be used more efficiently. This adoption will go smoothly if teachers are involved in the planning process and they can voice their opinions about what will work best in their classrooms.
Teach safe and appropriate use
Technology can only improve education when it is used properly. Educators must teach students tips for using search engines effectively, how to maintain a safe online presence, and device-specific shortcuts or tips to work more efficiently.
Teach corporation web filtering
Schools will have different web browsing capabilities with blocks for students and/or teachers. Teachers should understand the specific rules associated with their schools’ web filtering programs so they can plan their lessons accordingly.
Teach students to become independent learners
One-to-one technology allows students to become independent learners. Educators can teach students to use the capabilities of the web to answer some of their own questions without relying solely on their teachers.
Provide ongoing professional support
A technology integration campaign is only as successful as the efforts of those who are implementing it. It is imperative that teachers be supported during this process. Teachers must not only be given adequate training on all educational technology resources, but they must also receive constant professional development to ensure continued success.
Well-designed technology in the hands of well-trained teachers will ultimately improve the quality of instruction. Technology is constantly changing and new resources are available every day. Successful integration of educational technology resources occurs with a supportive administration and eager, ambitious teachers who constantly search for new ways to improve their teaching using the technology available to them.