Integrating technology into the instructional program is seen as important to the teaching/learning environment in order to provide students with meaningful activities. Yet, many teachers have not made technology integral to their teaching and are not prepared for the changes created by technology infusion. Assisting faculty efforts to integrate technology into instruction remains the most important challenge confronting American colleges over the next two to three years, according to the 1999 National Survey of Information Technology in U.S. Higher Education, conducted by Dr. Kenneth C. Green, the Campus Computing Project, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, Calif.
It is generally recognized that assistance is needed for all teachers at all levels to help find the appropriate resources. In early December of last year, U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley announced the availability of a Web site to help teachers find learning resources. It is designed to access more than 140 Web sites, retrieving information by topic, grade level and other criteria. Lessons, instructional units and other grade level-appropriate educational materials are available for free. (http://www.thegateway.org)
Another example is the Web site of the King Middle Grade School (Grades 4-6) in Kankakee, Illinois, which features extensive curriculum resources and other useful information. Teachers can find lesson plans, lists of online projects and more. (http://www.k111.k12.il.us/king/)
The preparation of standards for teachers is focusing on integration of technology. In December of last year, I participated in a meeting in Washington D.C., convened by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), on the topic of National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). The participants represented K-12 schools, the private sector, state departments of education and the U.S. Dept. of Education. We worked in small groups to produce draft materials to be used for developing a comprehensive set of teacher preparation standards for education technology. These include:
Basic Computing/Technology Operations and Concepts
Application of Technology in Instruction
Essential conditions that must be met for implementation of these standards
I was very impressed with the knowledge and enthusiasm of the group with which I worked. The information we produced will be used as the initial draft of the Net Standards for teachers, which will be completed by a writing team next year.
At the close of the meeting, the new "National Educational Standards for Students Connecting Curriculum and Teachers" was distributed. This colorful, well-documented, 400-page resource book was developed by writing teams of teachers. It includes learning activities organized by subject area and multi-disciplinary themes, listing basic software, online resources, etc., and is being sold by ISTE, Eugene, Oregon.
A number of "truisms" on integrating technology can be made:
Simply integrating technology into the curriculum will not by itself improve academic performance. The need for thoughtful and appropriate selection of how and where technology should be integrated is essential.
The success or failure of technology and its integration into the instructional program is more dependent on human and contextual forces than on hardware, software or connectivity.
Using technology to improve learning requires new methods and materials.
As we have learned, integrating technology is not an easy task. However, teachers and administrators seem committed to finding new and exciting ways.
This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2000 issue of THE Journal.