My Literature Review
There are a number of resources that focus on effective technology integration in the classroom. Sun Associates is a company who works with schools, districts and state departments in the United States, and other educational organizations worldwide. (Sun Associates) They state that research has shown that when tools such as word processors, spreadsheets, databases, modeling and presentation software are integrated into curriculum-based student-centered classroom activities, this can promote 21st century skills. They go on to say that meaningful integration means matching the most effective tools with the most effective pedagogy to achieve the goals of a particular lesson. Furthermore, the Sun Associates state that technology infrastructure in a school dictates what is and what is not possible for students and teachers. In connecting this to my research, this tells me that the tools must be in place to begin with in a school for technology integration to be effective. The report also notes that it is essential for equipment and infrastructure decisions in the school must be driven by the specific learning goals of the school/board. Sun Associates also states that schools whose professional development exposes teachers to new ideas and ways of teaching, with and without technology, are those whose classrooms display evidence of research-based best practice. Technology must be driven by the goals of the curriculum and must be used by students to allow for exploration, discovery and deeper understanding.
The current research also states that educational technologies must also provide students with interactive experiences along with frequent and focused feedback. (Militello et al)I think this fits well with other resources I’ve researched which talks about Google Documents being an excellent tool for providing meaningful feedback. This will allow teachers to give students more feedback, and in less time. Google Drive even allows you to track revision history to see how responsive they have been to your feedback. (Carey,Google Drive: A Better Method for Giving Students Feedback) I believe this is an example that shows how students are provided with interactive experiences along with meaningful feedback.
Research also indicates that the use of technology must be part of an instructional shift towards constructivist approaches to teaching and learning. Instead of simply dispensing knowledge, it’s about teachers setting up projects and arranging for access to appropriate resources. (Kozma)Constructivism is a process in which students set their own goals and plan their learning activities. (Kozma) Teachers must change their role from primary sources of information to one who provides students with structure and advice, monitors their progress, and assesses their accomplishments. In one case study, when teachers go beyond basic teaching practices and use technology to prepare and plan instruction and collaboration, and when students use technology to conduct research projects, analyze data, solve real-world problems, design products, and assess their own work, then they are more likely to develop new problem solving, information management, collaboration and communication skills. (Kozma) In terms of my research, this tells me that if technology is used as a tool, it should be used to promote collaboration, creativity and critical thinking, which can come in a variety of forms. This is what makes technology use truly effective. Another article from Edutopia (Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?) states that effective technology integration must happen across the curriculum in ways that research shows deepen and enhance the learning process. The Edutopia Staff go on to state that technology must support active engagement, group participation, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts. They also say that when students are learning through projects, students acquire and refine their analysis and problem-solving skills as they work both independently and in teams to find and synthesize information they’ve found.
After reviewing the literature on effective technological practices in education, I have come to a variety of conclusions on how to effectively use technology in the classroom. I have come to realize that whenever technology is used, the curriculum expectations must be taken into account, otherwise, you are just using technology for the sake of using technology. Technology should also be used to allow for student collaboration. I have come to realize that to be effective, learning must be student-centered. This means that they must be the ones doing the research and engaging in critical thinking, with the teacher facilitating. Technology must also be used in a collaborative manner. This means students can work on group projects and create multimedia presentations in groups, or even do research in groups. In the 21st century, the ability to collaborate and produce with team members is an extremely vital skill. I also learned that technology should and can be used to provide meaningful feedback, and this can be done in a variety of ways. This feedback should enable students to become their own best assessors and help them find ways to improve their learning. Many of the literary resources I’ve read have truly helped me understand what it means to use technology effectively. I believe the information I have been researching goes hand in hand with some of the practical tips on using technology in the classroom I have come to learn from websites such as www.edudemic.com, www.edutopia.com, and www.fluency21.com.
What did I find that was unexpected?
To be completely honest, I did not really find much that was unexpected. However, I initially overlooked the significance of teacher professional development to become effective facilitators of technology use in the classroom. The reality is, is that school boards and schools must invest money in not only having the most appropriate and technological tools, they must also invest in teachers themselves, making sure that they are comfortable with using technology in the school environment. In other words, school boards and schools cannot continue saying that there just isn’t enough funding. If they are serious about adapting to the 21st century learners, then they need to literally put their money where their mouth is. Through professional development, teachers must learn how to connect curriculum content with technological use in an efficient and effective way. They need to be shown what tools can be used in the classroom, and how to link it to curriculum content. More importantly, I also overlooked that teachers themselves need to be passionate and willing to change so that they are not afraid to use technological resources in the classroom. There is no way technology can be used effectively if teachers are too afraid to come out of their comfort zones. At first I thought that teachers would naturally support this 21st century change, but I then realized that since we are creatures of habit, many teachers might not be willing to support the major shift to technological education right away.
Is there anything I could not account for in my findings?
I was able to learn how technology can be integrated thoroughly in the classroom. I feel that my research is missing studies or resources on technological methods that do not work in the classroom. Personally, I think I need to dig a little deeper and find resources that show examples of using technology in the wrong way. This would serve a purpose because I will not only be learning about effective technological practices, but ineffective practices which I could be careful to avoid.
Carey, Jennifer. “Google Drive: A Better Method for Giving Students Feedback” Powerful Learning Practice, 9 Sep 2013. Web. 28 Oct 2013 <http://plpnetwork.com/2013/09/09/give-students-frequent-feedback-google-drive/ >
Edutopia Staff. “Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?:The Reasons Are Many” Edutopia. Web. 28 Oct 2013http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-introduction
Kozma, Robert. “Technology and Classroom Practices: An International Study” Center for Technology in Learning 36(2003) <http://robertkozma.com/images/kozma_jrte.pdf>
Militello et al. “Effective and Meaningful Use of Educational Technology: Three Cases from the Classroom” <http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic786630.files/HeffernanMS.pdf> 1-17
Sun Associates. “Best Practices in Technology Integration” Web. 28 Oct. 2013. <http://www.sun-associates.com/tlresources.html.>