Technology Integration Introduction

The use of instructional technology has evolved over the last two decades. Initially, instructional technology had two uses: learning about computers and using computers to increase basic skills. Learning about computers morphed into computer literacy, which is typically defined as the history, terminology and background of computing, using computing tools, programming, as well as ethical and social uses of computing. Using computers to increase basic skills relied upon technology that was robust for the time, incorporating a management system and drill-and-practice programs.

Each of these uses required a separate computer lab, often staffed with a certified teacher or a teacher's aide. While both purposes put computing into the schools, they may have ultimately militated against integration. By isolating computers in a single room and having only one person responsible for use of the technology, kids may have had some access, but the teachers had none. Without access to the technology, teachers were unable to learn about it for themselves, and they certainly were unable to use it with their students.

As pioneer teachers began using technology in exciting ways and more technology was being purchased, additional teachers became exposed to technology. Then along came the Internet, E-Rate, more software and some tangible positive results of students using technology. This changed the rallying cry from training students how to use computers a la computer literacy to integrating technology throughout teaching and learning. But the pressure did not just come from computer-using teachers and technology advocates, it also came from parents and students.

Technology integration moved from the rallying cry of parents, students and technology coordinators to public policy with the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which requires state applications for education technology funds to contain "a description of how the State Education Agency will ensure ongoing integration of technology into school curricula and instructional strategies in all schools, so that technology will be fully integrated into curricula and instruction by Dec. 31, 2006." And states are addressing the requirement in different ways. Approaches range from a reasonably straightforward certification from districts to extensive state-level evaluations. The flexibility within NCLB allows states to determine their own method for responding to the requirement, but also makes implementation more difficult due to resource allocations and the lack of a specific mandate from the federal government. The articles in this section and online offer a few examples of the approaches states are taking to ensure technology integration by 2006.

This article originally appeared in the 07/01/2004 issue of THE Journal.