As we pioneer the 21st century as digital consumers, “chalk and talk” lectures and brick and mortar traditional instruction is becoming somewhat obsolete. Our 21st century classrooms are now becoming inundated with lots of instructional technology including personal computers, smart boards, iPads, smart phones, virtual laboratories, and lots of other digital tools and resources, that not only enhance the way students learn, but promotes engagement, higher order critical thinking, collaboration, and fosters characteristics of good digital citizenship. With the rapid increase in technology products becoming available to all consumers, and educators finding ways to close the great digital divide, it is imperative that we adapt to innovative and cutting-edge ways to instruct our students while providing them the necessary tools and resources to compete in our ever changing yet thriving global society. Most classrooms today in schools have been retrofitted with an abundant amount of technology, yet our students are not narrowing the achievement gap. Could it be that technology is widely available to our students, yet not used effectively to promote student achievement and learning? Creighton (2003) asserts, that “new technologies have been used to kill time, instead of teaching better” (p. ix). Although this statement is brutally honest, it is also very true. In today’s schools, more time is spent on “using technology”, instead of “integrating technology effectively”.
A strong vision for technology usage must include helping educators gain an abundant amount of knowledge, skills, and dispositions such as those listed in the ISTE’s Technology Standards, while implementing ISTE’s Essential Conditions (Creighton, 2003). Furthermore, upholding high standards, providing ongoing professional development, increasing accountability for technology implementation, and using technology aligned to curriculum standards, can help change stubborn attitudes, mindsets, and beliefs about how technology should be used in our schools today. Moreover, a strong vision for technology usage in our schools should also foster classroom environments where teachers engage students in highly engaged technology-based curriculum, while affording them the opportunity to create, innovate, collaborate, communicate, problem solve and think critically. Teachers need to be more culturally aware and prepared with a variety of instructional tools and strategies in their pedagogical practices, to reach all diverse cultures. There are a variety of ways teachers can accomplish seamless technological integration to improve teaching and student learning.
- Providing places for students to publish their work, collaborate with their peers, and incorporating more authentic learning experiences in the classroom.
- Create classroom environments with equitable access to rich digital tools and resources, while maintaining cultural diversity.
- Foster classrooms with two-way collaboration, use of Web 2.0 and productivity tools, and cater to all students diverse needs, learning modalities, ability levels or cultures.
- Increase student-directed learning while using research-based strategies in technology to promote higher-order thinking in teaching and student learning.
- Incorporate technology-based projects along with engaged learning projects to support student acquisition of content standards and the NETS-S.
- Provide students with the ability to express creative thinking, develop innovative products, and apply knowledge of digital tools to communicate using various media platforms.
- Teachers should effectively model and facilitate technology-learning experiences, provide multiple ways to assess student learning, and transform their pedagogical practices to increase student achievement.
- Administrators and technology leaders should provide ongoing support to teachers and students, while evaluating the effectiveness of technology used to promote student learning.
- Students will expand their horizon in technology use by learning more about digital citizenship, copyright and fair use policies, engaging in real world learning experiences, taking on various roles, and completing performance-based tasks.
- Parents and community members will support the school’s vision for using innovative technologies to close the student achievement gaps.
Understanding that every stakeholder must not only be involved in a strong vision for technology usage, but more importantly recognizing the role each stakeholder plays in fulfilling the vision for technology use is key. Richardson's (2010) assert, that we must be connected and engaged in learning how to use technological tools, so we can better teach and serve our students. To build a strong foundation for lifelong learning and digital literacy in schools today, we must provide our students with classrooms abundant in technology use that not only fosters rigorous, relevant, and meaningful learning experiences, but equip students with the necessary skills to meet and exceed learning goals set for themselves.
Creighton, T. (2003). The principal as technology leader. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. (3rd ed.). Thousand Oak, California: Corwin