Over the last eight weeks, I've had the chance to really explore technology and ways to integrate it into education. Throughout my career as a science teacher, I've always been a fan of technology; however, I never realized how valuable it was for education. In the past, I looked to the internet to help me learn about new science facts to teach to my students, use other teachers' lesson plans that were shared when teaching something new, and communicate with parents and students. Now, I have a new outlook on the ways I can have my students use it!
At the beginning of my eight week journey to discovering integrating technology into the curriculum, I agreed with the following definition:
"Effective technology integration is achieved when its use supports curricular goals. It must support four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts. " (http://www.edutopia.org/tech-integration, 18 January 2012).
I still stand firm in my agreement. Over the last decade, teacher's roles have evolved into much more than just teaching a subject. We not only have to teach our students the required state standards, but we also have to educate them on ways to be successful adults! We now have standards that include character educations and 21st Century Skills. One of the best ways to incorporate all the expectations and standards is through technology integration.
Before this master's program, I used to think the integrating technology into my curriculum just meant that I have my students use computers for projects or a web quest here or there. Now, I realize that technology integration is vital to my students' success! In order to integrate technology it involves much more than just computers. It involves collaboration with other technology experts and time and motivation on my part in order to create GREAT curriculum to meet all my students' needs. If I have these things, then my students are able to stay actively engaged, learn to collaborate well with others, and connect to real life experiences. If my students have these, then they will become successful adults.
Throughout these eight weeks, I've also had the opportunity to discuss and see technology integration among other educators and his or her own classrooms. I've had the chance to talk to others that are considered to be from a variety of generations. From Baby Boomers to Generation Y, we all have the same duty: to teach Generation Z. So, it was wonderful yet frustrating to see how some of my colleagues embrace or fear technology. Those that chose to embrace technology really seemed to create successful educational experiences for his or her students. Teachers that seemed to use very little technology did not seem to be creating the same type of atmosphere. Although all the teachers I observed are terrific people, those that choose to use more technology just seemed to create classrooms for 21st Century skilled students. I'm now realizing that some teachers that don't want to use technology is mostly due to lack of knowledge. So, with some my new found discoveries, I'm hoping I can bring some more guidance to those that do want to learn!
Along with looking at some of my colleagues technology integration, I also took into my own curriculum. I've always taken pride of following Colorado State Science Standards and integrate more technology than some of my colleagues. However, I used to create lesson plans that used technology for more research and knowledge based purposes. I never really used technology to help students develop other skills such as problem solving or critical thinking. In fact, before my master's program, I never even knew that NETS standards for students and teachers even existed. Now, I find myself looking at every unit to make sure it includes these standards. If the unit doesn't integrate at least three or four of the NETS Standards, I've changed the unit to include them! This is my way to make sure my students are able to still learn the content, but also develop 21st Century Skills.
I still believe that technology should NOT replace the teacher; however, it can be a great way to enhance the teacher. By integrating technology, teachers are now able to provide his or her students with a learning experience that includes standards and skills to becoming great 21st Century adults!
I've still got a lot more to learn, so stay tuned to even more of my new found discoveries like the integration of technology.....