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1 The Benefits of Integrating Technology into the Classroom Synthesis Paper Abstract The goal of the paper is to synthesis my learning about how technology integrated into the classroom is beneficial to student learning. Research was done through reading current research material that was well supported by data found over the time since technology has become a prevalent field in education. These articles were found through the assistance of Dr. Dennis Back, the class instructor, and through the Boise State University online catalog. The search consisted of looking for concrete evidence to show the specific ways technology in the classroom has improved student learning. Through my research, I found that the data trend is showing some improved test scores, increased student involvement, and over all academic benefits of technology being integrated. Janie L. Cox Boise State University, EdTech Program Dr. Dennis Beck/EdTech 501 July 28, 2009 2 From the beginnings of integrating new technologies into American classrooms, it has been the hope and drive of most technology pioneers that the technology being utilized would benefit learners in a variety of ways. Since these beginnings, researchers have worked hard to collects and document data to prove that the integration of technology does in fact do just that, heighten the learning environment thereby raising test scores, improving student involvement and achievement, and being a guide for educators in doing so. When the first computers were integrated into our classrooms, the pioneers were on mission that they were hoping would lead to success. These groups anticipated great benefits to be shown. An Army research article, Computers in the Classroom: The Impact of Technology on Student Learning, noted that the anticipated benefits included better, faster learning and personalized tutoring, less repetition and drudgery in the classroom, and greater accuracy and documentation of student progress (Stratham & Torell, 1996). In an article written in 2003 by the U.S. Department of Education about the past twenty years of technology in the classrooms, that in 1983 computer science was to become one of the five new basic subjects (Culp, Honey, & Mandinach, 2003). It was said that in the same article, (2003) that over forty billion dollars was poured in publicly and privately to integrate techno logy and that in doing so the technology would work to foster the student’s skills as communicators, researchers and consumers. Some of the first uses of technology in the classroom were shown in the article written by Jeffery Fouts, (2000). He noted that as technology was becoming more prevalent, software was becoming more sophisticated and students were beginning to play games and use simulations to enrich their learning. He also noted how word processors were being incorporated into writing. One of the most relevant issues he noted that is still in effect today is that the volume of knowledge in which students had access to became so much broader (Fouts, 2000). As one can see, from the beginning technology was integrated to be a beneficial tool for educators in their classrooms. 3 When wondering how technology will benefit my classroom, as an educator, I need to take into consideration that it is my job to teach my students how to be effective citizens. Keeping up to date with operating new technologies is now a part of my job description. In an article written in 2000 about the effects of electronic classrooms it is said that technology is redefining what it means to be literate (Sinson & Claus, 2000). Technology is not only the way of the world we currently live in; it is changing traditional teaching pedagogy. According to Culp, Honey, and Mandinach, (2003) “Economic and social shifts have made technology skills critical to the future employment of today’s students, and more broadly, to the importance of technology innovation to maintaining the economic and political dominance of the United States globally.” (Culp, Honey, & Mandinach, 2003). Another study done displayed information showing how built in computer equipment and other electronics establishes a creating atmosphere, providing students with the physical environment conducive to authentic learning (Sinson & Claus, 2000). It is always beneficial in education to teach to all types of learners, when their creativity and unique learning styles can be used in connection with technology one can only imagine the learning possibilities. Culp, Honey, and Mandinach, (2003) say that integrating technology is taking lecture driven instruction and shifting it into more constructivists, inquiry based learning classrooms where students can create technology based projects channeling their own creativity and effectively exemplifying their learning. By integrating technology one can only conclude that there are a plethora of benefits to assist in the learning of students and helping them to become effective and qualified citizens. As with any new idea in technology, it is always important that the educator is educated. Meaning that the integration of new technologies should be constantly assessed to show the growth and that educators need to have the support when integrating new programs. In 2008 one article stated that to maintain effectiveness we need to ask ourselves the following questions; is the technology we are using directly benefiting students learning and is it relevant to the current needs and 4 practices of our society (Keengwe, Onchwari, & Wachira, 2008)? The same article noted that supporting teachers professional development needs to be shown through more funding put towards the training and support educators need in order to evaluate and successfully integrate these new technologies. Educators and administrators need to evaluate the uses of these new technologies by researching the benefits of new programs before they are implemented, annually evaluate the uses and benefits of integrated use, and be given the opportunity to share new ideas (Keengwe, Onchwari, & Wachira, 2008). Again, going along with any newly implemented plan, technology needs to be constantly researched, assessed, and supported in order to truly benefit the educational system. When taking a look at the potential benefits of the uses in technology in our classrooms, one can ask themselves; is it actually working? Research is saying yes, it is. Project CHILD at Florida State University stands for Computers Helping Instruction and Learning Development. This program created innovative classrooms where technology integration would be the norm. Sarah M. Butzin wrote the report showing the data correlated with this program. The research was gathered through multiple evaluations and longitudinal data has constantly shown higher student test scores (Butzin, 2001). Other positive benefits documented were decreased discipline problems, better attitudes towards school, more engaged learning, and positive parent involvement (Butzin, 2001). Research is not only showing the benefits to the average student learner, it is also showing the benefits to those students who are considered at-risk. One study showed that students engaged in technology enriched environments showed gains in all subject areas and improved achievement and improved attitude towards their own learning (Keengwe, Onchwari, & Wachira, 2008). The same research article noted that technology has shown to have a great impact on children who have disabilities saying that computers provide diverse tools and increase the probability that children with disabilities will interact with their learning environments (Keengwe, Onchwari, & Wachira, 2008). Chris 5 Dede, (2000) said this, ”Emerging interactive media that enable visualization and simulation experiences with complex scientific phenomena provide all students, especially learning-disabled and at-risk pupils, an increased opportunity for success.” (Dede, 2000 ). When NCLB is asking us to leave no child behind, why would we not partake in something that research is showing as benefiting those who are at-risk of being left behind? As said before, as educators it is part of our duty to aid our students in learning to become effective and efficient citizens of the future. It is important to look towards the future when it comes to integrating technology as well. In relation to this job description, Culp, Honey, and Mandinach, (2003) said, “Economic and social shifts have made technology skills critical to the future employment of today’s students, and more broadly, to the importance of technology innovation to maintaining the economic and political dominance of the United States globally.” (Culp, Honey, & Mandinach, 2003). In another article it was also noted that true education reform should focus on developing teaching strategies that compliment technology use within the curriculum, which relates back to constantly assessing the use of technology to make sure there is a direct benefit to student learning (Keengwe, Onchwari, & Wachira, 2008). The same researchers said this, “The goal of education technology is to integrate technology into the classroom so its use furthers learning goals and helps students focus on the subject, not the just the technology.” (Keengwe, Onchwari, & Wachira, 2008). Displaying once again that eh evaluation of integration is the key to proving the benefits of technology in the classroom. For any new research based implementation, it takes a collaborative and cooperative group to truly make technology integration a success. As research has shown, the benefits with technology begin in our job description; we are as educators to teach students how to be effective citizens of our country. When technology is at the core of every job market in America, it is key that our students be fluent in technology. Research has also shown that one component to showing the benefits of integrating 6 technology is to constantly be assessing and recording data to prove the successes we can see in our classrooms. Technology is truly the way of the world today and tomorrow, teaching our students to use their unique learning styles and abilities through new and innovative technologies will only drive them to become the productive and successful generation of tomorrow. 7 Bibliography Butzin, S. M. (2001). Using instructional technology in transformed learning environments: An evaluation of project CHILD. Journal of Research on Computing in Education , Vol. 33 Issue 4, p367. Culp, K. M., Honey, M., & Mandinach, E. (2003). A retrospective on twenty years of education technology policy. U.S.Department of Eductation, Office of Educational Technology. Dede, C. (2000 ). Emerging influences of information technology on school curriculum. Journal of Curriculum Studies , Vol. 32 Issue 2, p281-303. Fouts, J. T. (2000). Research on computers and education: Past, present and future. Seattle, WA: Prepared for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Keengwe, J., Onchwari, G., & Wachira, P. (2008). The use of computer tools to support meaningful learning. AACE Journal 16(1) , 77-92. Sinson, B. M., & Claus, K. (2000). The effects of electronic classrooms on learning english composition: A middle ground between traditional instruction and computer based instruction. T H E Journal , Vol. 27, Issue 7. Stratham, D. S., & Torell, C. R. (1996). Computers in the classroom: The impact of technology on student learning . Boise, ID: Army Research Institute.
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