Think that integrating technology into the classroom will only distract students and marginalize educators? Think again. Since students are already interested and engaged in technology, teachers can harness that attention for educational purposes. Incorporating the internet, laptops, tablets and even smartphones into the curriculum has many benefits for teachers and students alike.
1. Engages students and creates active learners.
Using a computer, tablet, or other device encourages self-directed learning and creates an active participant in the learning process, rather than the passive learners found in a lecture environment. Interactive lesson plans can help turn “boring” conceptual subjects like math and science into fun, engaging, and educational activities for students.
2. Encourages individual learning and growth.
No one learns in the same way or at the same pace, but technology can level-set the classroom. For example, technology can provide accommodations for struggling or disabled students, and virtual lesson plans provide individualized instruction for all. Students can learn at their own speed, reviewing difficult concepts or skipping ahead as needed. Additionally, access to the internet gives students access to a broad range of resources to conduct research.
3. Facilitates peer collaboration.
In a research project conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, many educators reported that technology facilitated peer collaboration. They noted that when students were assigned to small groups for technology-based projects, those students who already had certain computer and technology skills routinely assisted less skilled students. Peer tutoring, mentoring, and collaboration were the unexpected results of the technology integration.
4. Prepares students for the real world.
Technology is an integral part of how we work and live, every day. Teaching students how to use technology to learn, research, collaborate, and solve problems from an early age will better prepare them for their careers. It can also help reduce the fear of new technology in the future by familiarizing them with the discovery process for each new tool.
5. Creates more engaged and successful teachers.
Using technologies like virtual lesson plans and internet resources can help free up time — both in developing and delivering curriculum. This allows teachers to spend more time with the students who are struggling, ensuring the whole class is better prepared for tests and advancement.
As an educator, integrating technology into the curriculum is key. In other words, don’t just add a piece of technology to a lesson plan just because you can.
Make sure you understand:
- How to use the technology
- How to train students on using the technology
- How the technology supports your curriculum
- What benefits the technology brings to your lesson
An easy way to introduce technology is to start small. Try using a document camera to project textbook images on a screen, or introduce a website a week that corresponds with your lesson plan. The point is not to let technology take over your classroom, but to integrate it. Traditional teaching processes like lectures, writing papers, and analog testing should not be abandoned. When combined effectively with the methods you’re used to, technology can help you and help your students.
Resources to Get You Started
If you’re looking to incorporate more technology into your classroom, consider the following three free (or almost free) tools and resources:
- Capella University offers over 20 free professional development courses focused on educational technology, with options in three proficiency levels: limited technology experience, moderate experience, or teacher leaders/PD professionals.
- Edudemic offers a list of and links to 50 education technology tools grouped by categories ranging from Social Learning to Lesson Planning and Tools.
- Scholastic lists 50 essential smartphone and tablet apps for students (math, science, special needs, etc.) and teachers (lesson planning, classroom management, etc.).