Technology integration in the classroom is an incredibly useful practice that should be implemented by all teachers to some degree. I say this because every teacher has their own likes and dislikes, they have their own strengths and weaknesses. Technology must not impede on these weaknesses or dislikes. After taking this course I have come to understand that a huge factor in implementing technology use in the classroom is the teacher’s own conceptions. If a teacher is not comfortable and wishes to use technology, they may consult an expert or colleague. This collaboration between professionals is a very helpful strategy. This must be understood, along with the fact that technology should not be relied on. Sometimes technology fails and we need to have a backup plan, this is important to include in our lessons. Technology most definitely facilitates learning when it can be used.
Therefore, in order to integrate technology in my classroom I must be comfortable with using and excited about using whatever technology I select. For example, in my future classroom I hope to have the opportunity to utilize a Smartboard. I say this because I am comfortable using this device, and it really interests me. The Smartboard is also a really fun and engaging device for students to be involved in using. Technology has an amazing ability to enhance learning for students, it allows them to hear, say, and do. The interactive learning that is made possible by technology integration has a more meaningful impact on students. For example, games allow students to practice what they learned. Students will actually want to play and they arrive at a point where they desire to teach somebody else to play, this is an example of students saying, doing and even hearing/seeing within the game. Essentially technology is a huge help when it comes to the working memory of students.
In addition, using technology saves time! Technology integration does not have to be huge in order to have a huge impact. Teachers can utilize simple technologies in order to save time for themselves to focus on students. For example, students can mark themselves present on ClassDojo upon entering the classroom. This way, the teacher has more time to provide non-contingent attention to their students. Teachers can also use tools like Screencastify in order to provide directions during center time or to parents at home. In doing this, the teacher can focus their attention on helping with content in the classroom or planning lessons instead of responding to parents via e-mail. Again, this use of technology facilitates learning because it provides the teacher with more time to focus on their students’ needs.
I believe that it is appropriate to use technology in order to differentiate instruction. There are so many helpful technologies that could be integrated into instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners. This specific integration can not be done aimlessly, it must work for and meet the needs of the students. Therefore, in this case, a variety of technologies can be used to meet the needs of various learners. For example, students who have hearing impairments or difficulty decoding, or even who are simply visual learners can be accommodated. In this case, the teacher can record the instructions and they could listen to them instead of having a paper to refer back to. These students can even listen to a book on tape, which would promote comprehension and aid instruction. This would most definitely be an appropriate instance to incorporate technology, but again it is essential to know your students’ needs and likes in order to accommodate them. Instruction can even be differentiated for students who do not have a disability, with metacognition students are able to know how they best learn. Technology can assist us in offering choice for our students. This would result in more engagement in the activity and content which fuels meaningful learning. An example of this would be simply allowing students to type notes from an online textbook or write them from a regular textbook, while some students watch a video on the content.
Next, technology can differentiate and make assessment much easier for the teacher and students. There are many assessment tools that do not require all students to have devices as well. For example, Plickers only requires students to have their own paper and the teacher to have an iPad or iPhone. With tools like this, assessment can be done quickly and formatively. Many assessment tools are efficient because they provide immediate feedback. For example a tool like Quizalize will give students the correct answer if the answer that they enter or select is incorrect. These types of assessments can immediately modify misconceptions. However tools that do not give students immediate feedback may not be very effective when the teacher believes there may be many misconceptions, instruction may work better in this situation.
Sometimes technology will not work in the classroom, for many reasons. One of these reasons is that the school simply cannot afford to supply students with personal devices to take assessments on. This may not work but a teacher who genuinely desires to incorporate technology into their instruction in order to enhance it will figure out a way to do so. Students may be asked to use their own devices to take polls through texting. These numbers can be used for formative assessment, or even used in a math class to create charts and graphs. Also, students do not need technology for all integrations. For example, students do not require a device to use ClassDojo, watch videos on SchoolTube, or practice GoMath facts or sight words on the teacher’s iPad.
Overall, technology is a great aid in instruction. It allows students to experience learning in multiple forms and ways. Technology allows us to attend to all kinds of learners as well. Also, it can create a fun and interactive environment that will result in more meaningful learning. There are barriers and speed bumps when it comes to incorporating technology so it is essential to know what you are attempting to use. Teachers should have a check-list of how to incorporate, and a plan on what to do if it fails. This is because it should not be relied on but admired as a tool to improve instruction.