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Technology Can Change

Essay by   •  August 30, 2011  •  Case Study  •  2,427 Words (10 Pages)  •  1,307 Views

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With the integration of technology in today's classrooms, we may begin to see transformation of the teaching and learning process. There appears to be a growing interest in using the communities of learner's model to restructure schools and technology may be the cause for many changes to occur. It seems that if technology is used effectively as a tool for learning, students can be more creative and collaborative than in classrooms where technology is not accessible to students. It is believed that students of today need many different skills to be able to learn, work and adapt in our ever-changing world. It is believed that computer skills can be acquired while the students are learning the curriculum in a meaningful way. With this realization, the focus has now shifted to advancing the curriculum with the integration of technology.

With the introduction of computers, schools concentrated on teaching computer skills as a subject. This has progressed to having students gain knowledge from the computer, using it as a valuable information tool. In today's schools, the shift is for students to learning with technology. Technology is rapidly changing many aspects of society. Schools, as they exist today, need to closely examine the educational needs and goals of our students and how we can best meet these needs and goals. It is believed that students of today need many different skills to be able to learn, work and adapt in our ever-changing world. It is believed that computer skills can be acquired while the students are learning the curriculum in a meaningful way. With this realization, the focus has now shifted to advancing the curriculum with the integration of technology. Integrating technology into teaching practices may lead to the change of learning in the classroom. It will affect the learning environment, teacher roles, student roles, teacher beliefs and practices and ultimately the teaching and learning process.

Learning Environment

Dexter (1999) conducted research involving several teachers from a variety of schools and states. They were investigating instructional philosophies, classroom computer use and changes in teacher practice as they began using the computers in their classrooms. The findings where that many teachers did experience changes but these changes did not come from any one source. The researchers did say that beliefs seemed to be changing as teachers shared that their thinking and learning had changed. Many teachers began to believe that students should be active not passive learners and with deep thinking, the teachers saw a shift of learning from the teacher role to the student role. The main recommendation from this study was to have teachers as agents of change and to not focus on the computer as the change. "The presence of new technologies will not change schools. But, technology, if integrated into effective teaching and learning practices, can help restructure the classroom. Technology will not be the cause of the social change that is required for a renaissance in learning, but they can support that change if it comes." Knapp and Glenn (1996)

Teacher Roles

Means and Olsen (1999, as cited in Boethal and Dimock) believe that technology gives teachers additional grant to take on a coaching and advisory role, perhaps because students learn to use the technology much faster than teachers (p.17). Sandholtz (1997) believed that functioning as a facilitator with regard to technology can also lead to teachers willingness to assume a facilitative role with regard to content (p. 43). It appears that as teachers and students share the teaching and learning process, it becomes obvious that everyone has something to contribute to the group, therefore working together as a community of learners. Johnson, Schwab & Foa (1999) investigated technology as a change agent for the teaching process by studying more than 200 schools over a four-year time frame. They observed teachers who were adopting technology into their classroom transforming "the practice, art and meaning of teaching" (p.1). Teachers who were successfully incorporating technology into their teaching practice wanted the computers in their classroom for easy student access and not in a lab down the hall. With a small group of computers in their classrooms, these teachers soon discovered the need for dividing students into teams or collaborative groups for not only the computers but many other projects as well. Without even realizing it, they had moved away from whole class instruction and instead were having students work in small groups or learning centers. It was noted in this study that technology does increase the complexity that classroom teachers need to deal with but this complexity creates an environment where everyone takes responsibility to learn and teach. In this study, it was found that many teachers felt more comfortable with the technology once they realized the students were competent experts and the teacher did not have to be the main provider of knowledge. Technology offers the opportunity for teachers to become co-learners with their students: interacting, discovering, experimenting and discussing.

Knapp & Glenn (1996) believe that using technology effectively can help teachers restructure their classrooms and move from a teacher-centered lecture approach to a more learner-centered inquiry approach (p.218). As teachers see their students working collaboratively on the computers, it is perhaps more likely that they will try doing other project-based activities with their students. It appears that teachers trying different instructional approaches need to see the benefit to their students as they are then more willing to add new approaches that may lead to a community of learners. "What they do need to know is how to help guide students through the meaning-making process: how to ask probing questions, how to connect students to relevant resources, how to organize students into cooperative learning groups, and how to give them tools to store, manipulate, and analyze information (Means, Blando, Olson, Middleton, & Morocco, 1993)."

Teachers involved in the study conducted by Honey & Moeller (1990) claimed that integrating technology into their classrooms allowed them to make changes in their teaching. One group of teachers shared that their practices had changed over time, allowing them to teach differently as they were moved from a more teacher directed approach to an interactive approach involving the students. Instruction was more process-oriented rather than content-oriented and allowed more time to work with individual students. Honey and Moeller (1990) also said that teachers who held strong traditional beliefs and practices had more difficulty integrating



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