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1 Running Head: EFFECTIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 1 Effective Use of Technology in Education Inez Escandón The University of Texas at San Antonio

2 EFFECTIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 2 Effective Use of Technology in Education As the United States continues to shift into a 21st century society that relies heavily on technology, it seems only logical for our education system to change along with it and begin integrating technology into our classrooms. Huge success has been seen at the collegiate level with the integration of distance learning classes but doubts still remain on the effectiveness of educational technology in the primary and secondary level. Although Lowell Monke s (2010) article The Human Touch disputes the effectiveness of educational technology, extensive research has proven that educational technology is effective in the primary and secondary level with proper integration and supportive staff development. In Monke s (2010) article, he argued that technology did not improve nor enhance the student s learning and in more ways was actually a detriment rather than an advantage. He believes that children need to have a large amount of concrete experiences in order to make abstract ones more meaningful. However, with the increased use of technology, Monke (2010) believes that children will become increasingly less exposed to these essential concrete experiences essentially leaving their minds overloaded with heaps of useless abstract data. I do not believe that is the case. Unlike Skinner s Behaviorism in which every child comes into a classroom with a blank slate, I have a more constructivist belief that most children already come with a large amount of knowledge that is full of concrete experiences that they were exposed to well before they even attended school. Piaget s Constructivism states that during infancy children acquire schemata, which are systems of knowledge that represent pre-conceived ideas or

3 EFFECTIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 3 thoughts. These concrete experiences, comparatively the child s schema, cannot be taken away with technology. Similarly, the goal of educational technology is not to prevent new concrete experiences from forming by replacing all kinesthetic and traditional learning with abstract learning. As Monke (2010) mentioned in his article, one of the two goals of educational technology is, to give them access to tools and information that will enhance their learning in core subjects (p. 318). For example, if a teacher uses an interactive whiteboard as a tool to engage students and enhance a math lesson for kindergarteners, it does not mean that this will replace the use of math manipulatives. On the contrary, children can use the math manipulatives while the teacher presents a math lesson on the interactive whiteboard if so desired. If technology is used properly which is as a tool to enhance, concrete experiences should still be created regardless of integration of technology. Monke (2010) also argues that the increased use of technology has caused school s values to shift drastically. He believed that values that once held importance, such as character, creativity, and truth, have been replaced with others such as assessments, standards, and productivity (Monke, 2010). I do agree to an extent that these values have shifted but it does not mean the previous values have been completely rejected and forgotten. According to an article by Richard E. Peterson (2001) that discusses technology and creativity, creativity and technology are closely linked. He explained that technology can offer novel and creative ways to solve a problem which is a great skill to have as a future professional in a 21 st century workplace. This article provides evidence that the value of creativity still exists with technology it is just

4 EFFECTIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 4 modified for the 21 st century (Peterson, 2001). A modification for character and truth in the 21 st century can be seen as moral and ethical behavior on the computer while using the Internet. Students must learn to use social websites and tools responsibly and download information ethically. This shows that teachers can still teach these values while integrating technology in the classroom. Although I don t believe that technology doesn t allow values such as character, creativity, and truth, to be taught, I do feel that others such as assessments, standards, and productivity have taken priority. However, I disagree that technology is the main cause for the school s values to shift. Although technology does support these new values, high-stakes testing and factors like the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), have much to blame for the value shift in our school system. Schools are held largely accountable for what its students produce. With this much accountability, values shift to those that will produce the best product in regards to the situation. Because of the way most high-stakes tests are designed, I can see why teachers would rather place emphasis on values like assessments, standards, and productivity as opposed to values like character, creativity, and truth. All the pressure from these high-stakes tests has caused some of the teacher s values to change too. According to a survey conducted by the Detroit Free Press (Pratt-Dawsey & Tanner-White 2011), thirty percent of Michigan educators reported pressure of cheating in Schools that did not meet federal standards had forty-six percent of teachers report that they felt pressure of cheating and fifty percent of teachers report that they felt pressure of changing answers (Pratt-Dawsey & Tanner-White 2011). Although the teacher may have other incentives to emphasize these values, in the end it is also in the best interest of the children because they will be

5 EFFECTIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 5 more likely to pass the exams, which will make them more likely to achieve academic success. So even though technology lends itself well to many values, factors such as high-stakes testing and NCLB stifle values in both students and teachers. Monke (2010) states that, computer-based learning needs to grow out of years of concrete experience and a fundamental appreciation for the world apart from the machine, (p. 323) and I completely agree. I believe effective educational technology requires a balance and if done correctly can heighten engagement and improve test scores. Before we begin to talk about how we can use the technology, we need to look at who we re teaching to, the 21 st century learner. These children learn differently than most of teachers did because of the large amount of exposure to technology in their daily lives. The American Association of School Librarians (AASL, 2007) has created different standards for the 21 st century learner. The common beliefs listed emphasize reading, inquiry, ethical behavior, technology skills, and equitable access. If students are at the standard, they meet the second goal of technology, which is, to provide children with the computer skills necessary to flourish in a high-tech world (p. 318). Another point that the AASL (2007) mentions is the importance of ethical behavior to be taught in the use of information. Monke (2010) mentioned that computers threaten ethical behavior and our schools need to address this. If teachers follow the standards of the 21 st century learner, then this problem will diminish as well. Knowing what to teach to the 21 st century learner can avoid many of the downfalls of technology. Another idea we must be aware of is that technology is not magic and it requires effort on the teacher s behalf to make it effective. Test scores are not going to increase just by having an interactive whiteboard as a wall ornament nor is it going to increase if

6 EFFECTIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 6 you cannot use it effectively. A research testing the effectiveness of SMART Boards conducted by the Defense Language Institute s Patrick Lin (2009) produced data to support this idea. By comparing end of year test scores with four classes that had instruction with SMART Boards to two control classes that did not have instruction with SMART Boards from the previous year, Lin (2009) observed that one SMART Board class did significantly better on all areas than the control groups, two SMART Board classes did about the same as the control groups, and one SMART Board class did significantly worse on all areas than the control groups. Although many factors may affect student scores, the teacher and student surveys helped make a clear distinction why some classes did better and why some did worse. Students who reported using the technology more and teachers who felt more comfortable using it effectively produced better scores than the students who very rarely used the technology and teachers who did not feel comfortable using it. Lin (2009) concluded that the SMART Board was an effective teaching device when used effectively and consistently. According to the U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment (1995), the teacher training is the one of the greatest roadblocks to integrating technology into a school s curriculum (Brand, 1997, p. 1). The article Training Teachers for Using Technology (Brand, 1997) suggests a way to structure more effective technology staff development programs at school. One of the key components to integrate into the programs is Time. To fully understand and acquire the knowledge and skill to effectively be able to use a technology takes a substantial amount of time and practice. Another is to take into account varying needs during the workshop. Those presenting the workshop should take into account the different learning styles, levels, and interests of the target

7 EFFECTIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 7 audience and prepare accordingly. It is also very important to be flexible when it comes to scheduling staff development. Not every one who leaves the staff development is going to leave a proficient user. It is important to create flexible opportunities for teachers to continue to build on their skills even after the staff development is over. Provisional support through an instructional technology specialist (ITS) or technology resource teacher can also be very effective in providing teachers with support after the program. The ITS or technology resource teacher can help the teacher with basic questions about the technology, give ideas on how to integrate it into the classroom, and help with aligning it with the districts curriculum. Collaborative development would also be beneficial to have after the original staff development to share ideas with fellow teachers and share each individual s area of expertise. Although there are more, the last key factor I ll mention is teacher recognition. If teachers were given incentives by the district or administration, it would encourage more teachers to step out of their comfort zone and try the new technology. Some incentives listed are giving teachers additional access to technology and earning more computers for the classroom (Brand, 1997). Although, this process may be more time consuming, it is definitely a more effective way of training teachers to use technology. If teachers are trained better on the technology they can teach more effectively with it and help improve student s test scores. In the beginning of Monke (2010) article, he quotes Larry Cuban from Oversold & Underused and says, There have been no advances (measured by higher academic achievement of urban, suburban, or rural students) over the past decade that can be confidently attributed to broader access to computers The link between test-score improvements and computer availability and use is even more contested (p. 318). I

8 EFFECTIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 8 completely disagree with this statement as I have found plenty of research studies that have proven just that. In The Impact of Educational Technology on Student Achievement: What the Most Current Research Has to Say (Schacter, 1999), Schacter reviews five large scales studies on the effectiveness of educational technology in primary and secondary education. The first study analyzed was Kulik s Meta-Analysis Study, which integrated individualized computer-assisted software. Through the research technique meta-analysis, Kulik studied the findings of more than five hundred independent studies and concluded that students scored significantly higher, learned quicker, and liked their classes more. However, Kulik did mention that not all students improved in every domain. The second study analyzed was Sivin-Kachala s Review of the Research. Sivin-Kachala reviewed two hundred and nineteen research studies that assessed educational technology across all subject areas and grades. His findings showed that positive effects and increased achievement were seen in students across all domains and students attitudes towards learning changed. However, Sivin-Kachala mentions that the student population, the educator s role, and the amount of student access to the given technology influence technology effectiveness. The third study analyzed the effectiveness of Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT) interactive technologies in five different schools. In this study, positive attitudes and engagement were heightened like the other two studies, however test scores stayed the same. The fourth study, Dale Mann analyzed West Virginia s Basic Skills/Computer Education (BS/CE) Statewide Initiative that was implemented into eighteen elementary schools in the state. The technology included an Integreated Learning System technology that focused on mathematics and literacy skills such as vocabulary, spelling, and reading. Mann concluded that students scored higher on

9 EFFECTIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 9 the Stanford 9, positive attitudes increased within the students, and teachers really seemed to enjoy the BS/CE over time. Harold Wenglinsky analyzed simulation and higher order thinking software s impact on mathematics on thirteen thousand fourth and eighth graders in the last study. Wenglinsky found that eighth grade students who used the two technologies were fifteen weeks above grade level while the fourth grade students who used them were three to five weeks ahead. He also concluded that professional development for teachers showed gains in scores as well. Both fourth and eighth grade students performed worse on drill and practice technologies than the control group. Although these five studies had a few negative findings, Schacter (1999) concluded that educational technology is effective in increasing test scores and producing a positive learning environment. In order to use educational technology to its full potential, it is essential to consider all the important factors. Teachers must remember that there must be a balance between concrete and abstract experiences. Educational technology should be used as an enhancement as opposed to a replacement. It is important to be aware of the values that are being taught and to make an effort to integrate a wide variety through the technology. Teachers must acknowledge the learning styles and standards of the 21 st century learner and should teach accordingly. Schools and districts should provide more effective educational technology staff development programs that provide ample support and encourage teachers to integrate the technology in the classroom. Although it can be a lot of hard work to effectively integrate technology in the classroom, Schacter s (1999) research shows that it can produce many positive outcomes.

10 EFFECTIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 10 References AASL. (2007). Standards for the 21st Century Learner. American Library Association, 1, 1-8. Brand, G. A. (1997). What Research Says: Training Teachers for Using Technology. Journal of Staff Development, 19(1), 1-9. Retrieved July 28, 2011, from the Google Scholar database. Lin, P. (2009). Is SMART Board Smart Enough to Raise Students Proficiency Level?. DigitalStream Proceedings, 0(0). Retrieved July 31, 2011, from Monke, L. (2010). The Human Touch. Taking sides: clashing views on educational issues (16. ed., pp ). Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Peterson, R. E. (2001). Establishing the Creative Environment in Technology Education: Creativity Doesn't Just Happen by Chance; the Prepared Environment Nourished It. The Technology Teacher, 61, 1. Pratt-Dawsey, C., & Tanner-White, K. (2011, July 27). Survey: Nearly 30% of Michigan teachers report pressure to cheat. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved July 28, 2011, from Michigan-teachers-report-pressure-cheat Schacter, J. (1999). The Impact of Educational Technology on Student Achievement: What the Most Current Research Has to Say. Milken Exchange, 1, Retrieved July 28, 2011, from the Google Scholar database.

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