The question many educators reflect upon is this: How can a teacher integrate technology into their content area rather then how can they integrate technology into learning? The importance of technology is not at the heart of the issue in this specific reflection. The task over the last few days was to analyze the various angles that technology can take in order to be an effective learning medium across multiple content areas such as Social Studies, Math, Language Arts and even Physical Education, then list the relative advantages of technology into such content areas.
Each content area shares similarities. Educators require students to perform certain tasks or to complete certain projects in order to asses students knowledge. Technology therefore can be involved in similar ways whether to assist in math or English. One immediate advantage that all content areas can agree on is that using online software decreases the amount of paper used within the school. If some sort of worksheet is appropriate for the task then the worksheet should be uploaded into a common place for students to visit and print off further worksheets if needed.
Visually, technology is appealing. “Students can use products such as graphing software, spreadsheets, and numerous online information visualization sites to put data into a concrete form for easier analysis and representation of concepts” (Roblyer and Doering, 338). Technology provides a variety of learning opportunities from simple research to complex simulations. Either way, what the students see is advanced from the ‘overhead projector’ era. When something moves, has color coordination to demarcate information, or is interactive then students are more eager to learn and retain information.
Technology provides simulations and other hands on experiences that schools would otherwise deem too expensive or dangerous. I remember reading about an MIT study that worked alongside the new and innovative gesture based learning. With a specially designed glove, a household webcam and developed software, MIT students could manipulate a simulation such as tightening a bolt of picking up an object in real time. There are multiple advantages to this study that works across multiple contents. Science students can see what would happen when they mixed multiple solutions together, art students can create digital portraits without the need for expensive art supplies and please consider a physical education student who could play a game of tennis against a computer without ever hitting a physical ball. This is an advancement on the household console games from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.
There is an excitement around the school district I work in, here in Indiana. There is a hope that as part of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL), typical learning approaches in every discipline will be muscled out with exciting new approaches that integrate technology. Math teachers will use drill and practice methods to help their students who struggle with specific concepts. Social studies teachers will challenge their students with virtual field trips in order to show rather then tell. English teachers will be able to view, correct and comment on student work that builds upon student achievement and faster results. The issue then is if teachers have the ability/training and most of all, willingness to adopt such technology into their classrooms and their teaching.
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.