Integrating technology into education

When I started teaching fifteen years ago, IT in the classroom was being promoted as education’s saviour.

Smart boards were replacing blackboards and whiteboards, Powerpoints with multimedia were adding some much-needed flash to the classroom and notes could be handed out to students, rather than having them transcribe from the board. So, IT was changing the nature of teaching and learning, right!?

Not really!

Technology was being used, but it was being used to make the transmission of information better, bigger and flashier. We were just layering expensive technology on top of traditional pedagogy.

The thing is, using IT in this way makes teachers seem like digital immigrants in a world of tech-savvy digital natives. And the relevance of the profession is suffering because of this.

Students today engage with the world differently than 10, 20, 30 years ago; they are constantly connected, bombarded by information and are always learning.

They are Always learning!

But they are learning in a way that is different to the learning that took place in traditional classrooms. Their learning is chunked and rhizomal rather than linear, students use trial and error when confronted with something new and they connect, consume, create, recycle and share knowledge more than ever before.

So why not take advantage of these skills and supplement them!?

Teach students strategies for effective learning, teach research skills, how to see patterns and identify biases in information sources, teach how to communication, create and share knowledge in better ways. And teach students how to reflect on learning, set goals and assess their own progress according to an agreed upon standard.

You might ask how are teachers expected to teach these skills on top of their subject specific content?

One word; Integration.

Integrate these skills into your subject content by adjusting the context through which teaching occurs.

In other words, teaching and learning needs to adapt to include online tools and environments in a way that teaches students to engage in heathy online actions. Change the context through which learning activities occur to adapt the profession for the 21st century student.

These articles are inspired by my MA study and the readings around its Technology in Learning course.