Integrating technology into classroom curriculum such as language arts leads to an increase in retention among students of various ages by providing them with another means of information transmission. “We know that successful technology-rich schools generate impressive results for students, including improved achievement; higher test scores; improved student attitude, enthusiasm, and engagement; richer classroom content; and improved student retention and job placement rates. Of the hundreds of studies that show positive benefits from the use of technology, two are worth noting for their comprehensiveness. The first, a U.S. Department of Education-funded study of nine technology-rich schools, concluded that the use of technology resulted in educational gains for all students regardless of age, race, parental income, or other characteristics. The second, a 10-year study supported by Apple Computers Inc., concluded that students provided with technology-rich learning environments continued to perform well on standardized tests but were also developing a variety of competencies not usually measured. Students explored and represented information dynamically and in many forms; became socially aware and more confident; communicated effectively about complex processes; became independent learners and self-starters; knew their areas of expertise and shared that expertise spontaneously” (National School Boards Association, 2010).
Language arts is a curriculum area which benefits substantially from technology integration as we’ve moved beyond the use of computers for simple word processing and toward incorporating technology into literacy (Young, 2004). Instructors can utilize the internet, demonstrate language skills such as grammar and vocabulary choices in writing samples and even emphasize the parts of speech through such means as creating visual aids, accessing online literature, reviewing and commenting on student work, integrating digital presentations or PowerPoint, utilizing web searches, grammar instruction and even utilizing word processing software on both an individual and a classroom level (McGraw-Hill, 2010).
One of the greatest challenges in utilizing technology within a classroom setting is the potential for breakdowns. McGraw-Hill (2010) compiled a list of suggestion in dealing with this inevitable problem such as educating the instructor prior to using any new technologies. Other strategies they suggest are to create an alternative plan for any probable glitches, compile a list of students, parents and staff who can support the new technology, and most importantly, teachers needs to have an alternative lesson plan in order to handle any last minute difficulties.
Standards for technology integration were originally released in 2000 in response to the “rapid advances in technology” which placed additional demands on teachers (International Society for Technology in Education, 2010). The National Educational Technology Standards (2010) express several points to guide teachers in the use of technology within their classrooms. They suggest technology should be used to facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity, design and develop digital-age learning assessments and experiences, model digital-age work and learning, promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility as well as engage in professional growth and leadership.
The International Society for Technology in Education (2010) seeks to “advance learning through teaching and effective uses of technology”. They have promoted the technology front providing support for educators to implement technology appropriately and to move beyond the unnecessary application of resources simply to portray knowledge. This organization diligently publishes guidelines, instruction and support to the education field. Yet despite the efforts of organizations such as the ISTE, educators generally receive little guidance in how to implement technology in their classrooms. Each educator is responsible to seek out appropriate methods to instruct their students.
Many teachers admit the strongest support they receive in using technology within their classrooms is from their administrators. Feldner and Kincaid (2002) support this claim. “Principal leadership has been described as one of the most important factors affecting the effective use of technology in classrooms. Additionally, principals who exhibit leadership are instrumental in modeling the use of technology in classrooms. They understand how technology can support best practices in instruction and assessment, and they provide teachers with guidance” (Feldner and Kincaid, 2002). Principals succeeded in achieving this by giving not only technological guidance but through emotional and moral support while showing interest in the changes teachers applied. Additionally, schools who have technologically savvy principals tend to have it integrated into the each piece of curriculum, making it a priority in everyday instruction and encouraging the implementation of new technology.
Bitner & Bitner (2002) propose eight areas of consideration to help teachers successfully integrate technology. “These areas are fear of change, training in the basics, personal use, teaching models, learning based, climate, motivation and support.” Through continual conceptualization of how various technology can be used within the classroom, teachers can creatively and triumphantly apply integrate technology and curriculum.
Bitner, N. & Bitner, J. (2002). Integrating Technology into the Classroom: Eight Keys to Success. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education vol.10.
Feldner, L. & Kincaid, T. (2002). Leadership for Technology Integration: The Role of Principals and Mentors. Educational Technology & Society 5(1).
International Society for Technology in Education. (2010). National Educational Technology Standards. [Online]. Available: http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForTeachers/NETS_for_Teachers.htm
McGraw-Hill Companies. (201). Integrating Technology into the Language Arts Classroom. [Online]. Available: http://www.glencoe.com/sec/teachingtoday/subject/int_tech_lit_la.phtml
National School Boards Association. (2010). Technology’s Impact on Learning. [Online]. Available: http://www.nsba.org/sbot/toolkit/tiol.html
Young, C. A. & Bush, J. (2004). Teaching the English language arts with technology: A critical approach and pedagogical framework. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 4(1). Available: http://www.citejournal.org/vol4/iss1/ languagearts/article1.cfm