“If we teach today’s students, as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” This well-known quote from John Dewey is as relevant today as it was when it was first made back in 1916. Education is an ever-changing, constantly evolving art and we, as educators, must be willing to change our practices and adapt to meet our students where they are and prepare them for their future. Students today are digital natives, having grown up with technology as a part of their everyday lives. Outside the classroom, students are using all sorts of devices, yet in many classrooms, students are expected to shut down all electronics and learn using “traditional” methods. As a leader in the movement toward the integration of educational technology in my district, my main goal has always been to close the gap between the digital lives students lead outside of the classroom and the way that they are being taught inside the classroom. As educators, we have an obligation to integrate technology into our teaching to provide a more relevant and higher quality educational experience for students. We also must teach students to use the digital tools available to them and to help them hone their digital literacy skills to prepare them for their future. An article posted on Edutopia summarizes this, saying, “When technology integration is at its best, a child or a teacher doesn’t stop to think that he or she is using a technology tool — it is second nature.” We must seek to seamlessly integrate educational technology whenever possible in the best interests of the students.
Educational technology, when properly integrated, makes education more meaningful for students by boosting engagement and providing new and better ways for students to interact with information in ways that never were possible before. According to Edutopia, some of the advantages of educational technology for both teachers and students include “access to up-to-date, primary source material, methods of collecting/recording data, ways to collaborate with students, teachers, and experts around the world, opportunities for expressing understanding via multimedia, learning that is relevant and assessment that is authentic, and training for publishing and presenting their new knowledge.” Additionally, educational technology supports the current philosophical shift in education in which emphasis is placed on a more constructivist-based learning theory where students learn by discovery and personal interaction with material. The New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report states that “All over the world, schools have been shifting the roles of students from passive consumers of content and knowledge to creators of it. By integrating digital tools in lessons, students are more fluently producing media and prototypes, leading to greater engagement with learning.”
Educational technology has become a fundamental requirement in classrooms. How we teach must reflect how our students learn, as well as the world they will emerge into, adopting new instructional approaches based on future societal needs. The overall goal of technology from its earliest forms to current trends is to find better ways to do things, and educational technology is no exception. We must fully embrace and constantly seek out better ways to improve the art and practice of educating our students.
NMC Horizon Report > 2015 K-12 Edition. (2015). Retrieved September 5, 2015, from http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2015-nmc-horizon-report-k12-EN.pdf.
What Is Successful Technology Integration? | Edutopia. (2011). Retrieved September 5, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-description.