Issues and Concerns with Integrating Technology
Identifying Emerging Technologies
The issues with integrating technology into the classroom should be considered and researched before investing in technology/media that might not be effective, may not benefit student learning, or lack funds to upgrade or repair when inoperable. For many years there was not a technology plan for purchasing technology and media to support students in the classroom. The idea was simply a computer lab was filled with technology and students would learn from this. As a result, I see computer labs being used ineffectively as basic word processing tools to simply type research papers. However, with the advent of mobile computing/iPod carts, students are using technology to explore content through collaboration and exploring real-world learning opportunities. As a Title I school a few years ago, my campus purchased a variety of technology resources such as computers, devices, peripherals, and software for student use. The first problem with this is the teachers did not know how to integrate these new resources effectively into their curriculum. The second problem occurred when these technology resources broke/needed upgrades, batteries need to be replaced, or licenses expired. There simply were not any funds to repair, upgrade, or renew these resources. This Title I money was a one time appropriation and the district either did not have the funds or the personnel to keep these technology resources functional for learning. It has taken time and money but our campus is now evaluating the effectiveness of technology and its benefit in the classroom before making technology purchases.
Integrating New Technologies
At Sachse High School, this year a new concept with technologies/media have successfully been implemented into our course offerings. Third year Advanced Animation and AP Computer Science courses have been combined into one class in which students explore authentic STEM learning opportunities. The two classes merged into one class to expand on strengths of each course, such as the animation students create the graphics/appearance and the computer science students work on the programming side of the projects. This is a project-based environment with the students working in teams and each student has a specific role for the team’s success. The students have partnered with NASA to create games to assist middle school science students about asteroids and their dangers. With NASA taking an active role in assisting the Animation and Computer Science students, real-world learning opportunities became a reality when NASA’s leading expert on asteroids, Dr. Paul Abell, visited our students and consulted one-on-one with the students asteroid deflection projects. Students from the Astronomy class also participated in Dr. Abell’s lecture presentation. The STEM initiative class has been a success thus far and our campus is striving for a STEM certification.
Technology is only a resource and I have learned this can connect students to content and learning. Technology is not a replacement for teaching but rather a supplement to the learning. The collaboration, communication, and development of higher-order thinking skills for students will benefit students throughout their life of learning. Technology will continue to change and emerging technologies will be developed, but the key element for students is to develop their own construction of knowledge with whatever resource they are using. As I tell my students, there is not a profession (or very few) that you will work solo in. We need to learn from each other and be able to grow and develop in a team environment.