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Integrating Instructional Technology - Essay Example

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Integrating Instructional Technology The use of technology in the classroom is not a new phenomenon. From writing on stone tablets to writing on computer tablets man has tried from the beginning of time to incorporate the technology at hand into the teaching and learning environment…
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Integrating Instructional Technology The use of technology in the room is not a new phenomenon. From writing on stone tablets to writing on computer tablets man has tried from the beginning of time to incorporate the technology at hand into the teaching and learning environment. However, it is only in today’s age of massive information explosion that both students and teachers are mandated to understand and use the technology in order to enhance teaching and learning. Although students are constantly using technology in a social environment such as their use of cell phones or social networking using the technology to learn is a completely new element. Teachers are required therefore to adopt a new paradigm about the use of technology and impart this enthusiasm to their charges. On the completion of a technology training program Bartak as cited in Yorbalinda (2009) observed, ‘The technology has changed my teaching forever,… There is definitely more interaction and every student volunteers to answer questions.’ Notwithstanding that technology use in the classroom is touted as the new genie of the 21st century learning, there are a variety of pros and cons for its use in the classroom. Firstly, students are exposed to the computer and the Internet on a daily basis. Therefore, the student enters the classroom with an advanced previous knowledge about the use of the technology for social purposes. The teacher then simply needs to build on this foundation. Students love to communicate using the technology therefore their mindset would be positive when it comes to utilizing technology in the classroom for different content areas. Secondly, technology is used in every area of today’s society. It is used to interact with loved ones, business associates, even with Heads of government. After all it is through the use of technology that Barack Obama was able to obtain a tremendous amount of campaign funding. Thus, technology is all around us. It is therefore necessary that students be au courant with technology as a means of learning. For example, students can read as well as create their own e-books in order to enhance their learning. Another example of the excitement with which technology adds to the classroom is the use of the SMART Board as highlighted by Dekunder (2010). Students with the SMART Board are able to manipulate and engage with the material in a way that was never possible before. Burnett (2010) observed that one of the major issues for university students in a Virtual learning Environment is connectedness. Burnett (2011) posited that students in such an environment felt more connected than in a face to face class setting. One student noted that the virtual environment ‘makes you feel part of something’ (246). Thus, the use of technology in the classroom may cause students to achieve one of Maslow’s hierarchy of motivation, that of belongingness. Using blogs and wikis to enhance learning therefore may not only create connectedness within the classroom but stakeholders outside of the classroom (parents, siblings, and peers in other classes) may also feel a part of the learning and a part of the members of the class. Nonetheless, Burnett (2011) observed that while the students claimed they felt a sense of connectedness they also spoke to the idea of ‘autonomy and dependence’. One student noted in the virtual environment ‘you feel you can’t ask’ (246). Thus, a disadvantage to the use of technology is that students may be unwilling to appear unknowledgeable about certain concepts. In light of this ‘student identity’ many unanswered questions and misconceptions of the student may remain unanswered. The onus is on the teacher to strike a balance in the use of technology where students may feel free to ask for clarification and continue their exploration of this knowledge in the virtual learning environment. Further, some teachers may use technology just for technology sake and its use may not necessarily augment the learning process. Such a situation could cause great harm to the use of technology for it may not only make it difficult for the student to understand the content area but it may contribute to actually turning off the student from technology as a tool for learning. No teacher wants to discourage their student from learning therefore teachers need to be thoroughly trained in the best practices in the use of technology in the classroom. A discussion of the pros and cons of the use of technology cannot be complete without addressing the issue of wired and wireless classrooms. In wired classrooms, there are physical wires which are present in the connection of the Internet to the computers. Such a system whilst allowing for increased speed in the downloading and uploading of data via the Internet is a costly procedure (Goldman& Kaufman 2001). In addition, the lack of operation in one computer may not necessarily affect all the other computers. The situation is the reverse in a wireless classroom. Goldman& Kaufman (2001) described a wireless class-room as one in which ‘an array of communications technologies that operate without any physical connection’ and as such students are free to change locations and move around in different groups in such a setting. Nevertheless, in the case of the malfunctioning of one computer, all the other computers within the network would malfunction as well. Despite its cons technology continues to be a salient feature in the classroom. Donnelly, McGarr, & O’Reilly (2011) suggest that the starting point of how technology can be utilized in the classroom to increase knowledge is with the teacher. Why? These authors insist that there are several barriers to the effective use of technology and every one of these barriers ‘revolve’ around the teacher. Interestingly, Fullan as cited in Donnelly et al. (2011) noted that educational change is dependent on ‘what teachers do and think’. Thus, the author of this paper believes that the training of teachers in the effective use of technology is vital to the successful integration of technology in the classroom. References Burnett, C. (2011). Medium for empowerment or a 'centre for everything': Students' experience of control in virtual learning environments within a university context. Education an Information Technologies.16 (3), 245. doi: 10.1007/s10639-010-9122-z Dekunder, D. (2010). SCUC installs SMART Boards in every classroom, school. Pt - Northeast Herald, pp. 6NH. Donnelly, D., McGarr, O., & O’Reilly, J. (2011). A framework for teachers’ integration of ICT into their classroom practice. Computers & Education, 57(2), 1469-1483. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2011.02.014 Goldman, P., & Kaufman, B. (2001). How to push an elephant through a straw: Using wireless technology in a Web-enhanced skills program. International Review of Law Computers & Technology. 15(3), 281-299. Yorbalinda. (2009, September 17). Teachers getting smarter in the classrooms. Orange County Register (California), pp. J. Read More
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