541- Content Areas

What is the relative advantage of using technology in the classroom to increase engagement, relevance and authenticity of major content courses? The obvious response to this question is that the lives of students outside of school is becoming more and more immersed in technology, therefore in order to increase relevance for students in school, educators must leverage technology. Technology in education has the power to connect the major areas of study in schools with each other and with the world around us. Through the use of technology students can see relevance in math as it applies to science, exploration and discovery. Students can connect the study of literature to history through the examination of primary sources and the subsequent ramifications for today’s society. “Today. thanks to the Internet, the classroom is a worldwide classroom in which networked technologies for literacy enable us to communicate with people around the world” (Roblyer, Doering 2010).

In language arts literacy has always been a focus of the curriculum, however the definition of literacy has evolved. Today, if language arts teachers are focusing on literacy, they must also include digital literacy. As technology changes students must be equipped to adapt to those changes; understanding how to interpret digital media and technology is a twenty first century life skill that is relevant in school and in life. Information is easily accessible by students today, however they must be given the tools to discern accuracy from bias, rumor, or blatant misinformation. Roblyer and Doering state that “students need instruction in processing the information and separating out bias and inaccuracies (intentional and otherwise)” (Roblyer, Doering 2010). In Language Arts, and in all curricular areas, technology motivates students to learn through immersive, media rich resources and interactivity which strike at the heart of educational objectives related to reading, writing, critical analysis, and problem solving.

Integrating Educational Technology into teaching lists 10 strategies for using technology to enhance teaching of reading, writing, and language skills.(Roblyer, Doering 2010 p. 284).

1. Electronic Publishing projects to encourage student writing
2. Electronic penpal activities to encourage student writing
3. Internet resources to engage students in literature
4. Online book clubs
5. Concept mapping software to help students plan their writing
6. Talking books to engage students in reading
7. Alternative formats for writing stories
8. Threaded discussions to motivate student writing
9. Blogs and fan fiction websites to motivate student writing
10. Tracking systems to motivate student reading

Roblyer and  Doering suggest that in order to motivate students, teachers need to tap into their  interests and engage students by presenting literature in a meaningful, relevant manner.  Some possible technology driven strategies could include networked literacy projects, interactive storybooks, student generated digital stories and videos, as well as writing in blogs and threaded discussions. One justification for this approach is to open up the potential audience pool for student writers to more than just one…the teacher. Through technology the perceived importance of student work is elevated through the increased audience potential. This approach lends professionalism to the process and the product and encourages the editing and revision process.

Technology integration in science and math is essential. Modern math education strives to prepare students for a highly technological society where workplace skills require advanced computational ability as well as finely tuned problem solving and logic based decision making.
Engaging students in math has traditionally been difficult due to a perceived lack of relevance; with technology, teachers can move toward a student centered approach that emphasizes real world relevance and demonstrates concrete examples of mathematical principles in everyday life.

Integrating Educational Technology into teaching lists 6 strategies for using technology to enhance teaching of mathematics.(Roblyer, Doering 2010 p. 320).

Using virtual manipulatives allows students to manipulate data in a virtual hands-on environment and provides concrete representation of abstract concepts. Using technology to foster mathematical problem solving gives students opportunities to apply knowledge in a constructivist environment, promoting deep understanding and educational impact. Computer based applications can generate visual representations of mathematical principles making concepts easier to visualize and understand. Through the use of spreadsheets and databases teachers can implement data driven curriculum which promotes experimentation with data and a cause and effect type analysis. Technology also has the inherent capability to motivate skills building practice for students to master basic computational skills and through communication based applications students can now access the knowledge and skills of professionals world wide or collaborate with other students on a global platform.

Science and technology are often viewed as one in the same. The National Science Education Standards differentiates the two by stating that “…the goal of science is to understand the natural world, and the goal of technology is to make modifications in the world to meet human needs.” (NRC, 1996) Technology integration into science supports student learning through providing authentic experimentation, inquiry, and access to information and tools. Making science authentic involves connecting inquiry to students’ lives. Technological resources provide a platform for authentic scientific inquiry and discovery at all phases of exploration. Data collection, storage and analysis is enhanced through technology. Visualization and manipulation in virtual environments makes the impossible, possible. Communication with experts and students around the globe is made possible through the integration of technology in the science classroom.

“The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as  citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an independent world. (NCSS, 1994) No other school based discipline has the potential to harness technology in a more relevant, poignant manner. Students of social sciences can now gain immediate, knowledge of world events in a media based environment. Students can use the Internet to mine information in a quest to locate relevant, accurate primary sources in the creation of artifacts that represent learning.  Students can communicate directly with students and experts across the globe, gaining a sense of social empathy and understanding of other cultures and in turn a rich appreciation of our own. “Not only is there more to learn about the world than ever before, but the information is changing constantly and dramatically. Fortunately, the same technology that created this more complex world also can help teach about it” (Roblyer, Doering 2010).

Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching lists 10 strategies for using technology in Social Studies Instruction (Roblyer, Doering 2010 p. 351).

1. Adventure Learning
2. Virtual Field Trips
3. Geocaching
4. Live through History- simulated immersion experiences
5. Webquest activites to learn history of political actions
6. Apply geospatial technologies to study the connection between the Earth and people.
7. Stock Market simulations
8. Electronic storytelling to recreate history
9. Real time collaboration
10 Digital media creation through the use of cameras

Technology in music and visual art instruction has allowed students to express themselves in a highly professional, creative environment, as well as enabling students to access, view, and analysis art from around the world and throughout history. Visual Arts now encompasses many highly technical mediums such as digital photography, media arts, 2D and 3D animation, while music instruction now includes computer assisted music composition. Music teachers can now rewrite or arrange compositions for performance easily using music notation software, which allows student parts to be altered to compensate for range or technical ability or even to alter the tonal center for the entire piece. An instructor of music history can now use technology to instantly access music files as examples and information on composers and musicians while making connections to the political and social standards of the period.
Music directors for high school musicals can sequence parts for performers to utilize in home practice or, in some cases, sequence the entire musical score for accompaniment of a performance. This allows predictability for rehearsal and a guarantee of a polished performance by the pit orchestra.  Music directors can also use sequencing software to supplement performance material giving the final product a professional edge that engages and motivates students.

Technology integration in education has many benefits for students in specific content areas, however the true power of technology in education is in connecting each of the disciplines to each other and to the world in which we live.

References:

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

National Research Council (1996) National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

National Council for the Social Studies. (1994). Expectations of Excellence: Curriculum standards for social studies. Silver SPrings, MD; Author.

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  1. 541- Final Course Reflection « Barry Janzen EDTECH Learning Log

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