Education technology has become an essential part of educating our nation’s children.
Today, in classrooms across the country, you can find students learning in new ways through deeply-integrated technology in the form of virtual lessons, advanced software, and computing devices for every participant.
Successfully integrating education technology into a school system is one of the biggest accomplishments a school district can have today, because it opens up many avenues for students and teachers alike to obtain positive results.
What does a successful integration program look like? What are the defining features of a fully-functional and capable integration infrastructure?
The Three Factors of a Successful Education Technology System
There are three factors that determine whether or not a technology system in a school is a success and has been integrated fully into the learning environment. These factors are:
- Alignment with curriculum goals
Integration is transparent when technology use is widespread enough that it becomes second nature. Teachers and students alike know how to fully use the system. Administrators are clear on how it is being used and how to best implement the system for better results.
Another word for transparency in this case is clarity. The functions and goals of the system should be clear to everyone. Only if the system is transparently clear can the system as a whole succeed.
Every student has complete access to the same technology as every other student. This is most often found with one-to-one computing. By making technology readily available – not just to students, but to teachers – administrators can ensure that the benefits of tech are evenly distributed across the school’s population.
Alignment with Curriculum Goals
Merely having technology, though, doesn’t do a school any good unless it is closely aligned with and supportive of the curriculum and the goals of the school.
Technology should provide a way to advance these goals and deliver the curriculum in a newer and better way, not distract from the curriculum or provide irrelevant education.
Integrating Technology into the Classroom
There are a few ways to incorporate technology into the classroom and the school district as a whole.
A blended classroom is a new trend where you combine in-person, face-to-face learning with online learning in some capacity. First seen at the undergraduate and graduate levels, blending classrooms is becoming more common in K-12 education. The advantage is that children get exposed to curriculum both in school and at home, which leads to a richer educational experience and, ultimately, more success.
Project-based learning is a time-honored method in education that can be further enhanced with technology. Indeed, one of the easiest ways to include tech in the classroom is to use it as a part of a project – or even having the project be completely technological in scope.
One cutting-edge method that is increasing in popularity is using handheld devices, like mobile devices like Chromebooks, laptops, or tablets, in classroom instruction. These devices are thought of by some educators as being distracting before they give them a try, but the outcome is actually different: students engage more with the curriculum when they get to experience lessons through these devices.
Integrating education technology into the classroom is a big undertaking, but it can be one of the most beneficial strategic decisions a school district can make to improve learning outcomes.