While the Declaration of Independence does not list “digital equality” as a basic human right, it is widely accepted today that in order to excel in the 21st century, one must have a certain level of digital fluency. The corollary is also true, that if one does not maintain a certain degree of digital connectivity and skills, he or she is less advantaged than those who do. This advantage or disadvantage applies to both education and the workplace, to developed and developing countries throughout the world.
Schools have both the opportunity and responsibility to teach students not only curriculum but life skills that will prepare them for their futures. This knowledge goes far beyond basic reading, writing, and arithmetic that may have sufficed years ago. Schools must also teach technology life skills that expose students to multimedia, life management, organization, collaboration, research, and other digital academic tools that will enrich their education and make them more competitive in their respective careers.
Teachers must seamlessly integrate various technology tools in the classroom. This technology can be anything from computers, DVD’s, iPads, interactive white boards, smart phones, software, Internet, document scanners, electronic music devices, to digital film and movie cameras. Edutopia states that the use of such technology tools must be “routine and transparent. Technology integration is achieved when a child or a teacher doesn’t stop to think that he or she is using a computer or researching via the Internet.”
The 2010 National Education Technology Plan Executive Summary calls for a “revolutionary transformation” (pg. 7) and that no matter whether the subject is English language arts, math, science, social studies, history, art or music, 21st-century competencies such as complex problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and multimedia communication should be woven throughout. Such competencies are necessary if students are to become expert learners and be able to adapt to the rapidly changing world throughout their lives (pg. 9).
Support Technology Integration in the Classroom:
Real-world tools will create learning opportunities that allow students to grapple with real-world problems. This will give students opportunities that will prepare them to be more productive members of a globally competitive workforce (NETP, 2010, pg. 9). Students should take advantage of every opportunity to learn a new skill and gain exposure to various multimedia and digital tools available to them online and in the classroom.
Technology-based assessments that combine cognitive skills with multimedia, interactivity, and connectivity will make it more feasible to directly assess these types of skills (NETP, 2010, pg. 9). While technology will (and should) never replace a great teacher, it will help teachers meet the individual needs of their students. Teachers should be given time, financial support, and professional development training to engage students by using current educational technology tools.
Parents should do everything within their power to make technology tools available to their children, realizing that by so doing they are greatly contributing to their child’s education. At the very least, this includes having a computer with Internet access in the home, or if financially unable, providing a way for students to use library, school, or other community resources. Parents should make every effort to learn basic technology skills themselves so as to be a resource and support for their children.
It will take an ongoing national team effort of administrators, policy makers, computer developers, corporations, districts, and local and federal governments to improve our children’s education. Using the best that technology has to offer in the classroom is a great start.
- http://youtu.be/edi7k3cfUmg How the American Embassy School in New Delhi is using iPads to study their effectiveness as student and professional tools
- http://youtu.be/EjJg9NfTXos See how this Canadian school is using technology to focus on 21st-century skills
- http://tinyurl.com/7o3wegk See how this Minnesota high school fares a year after giving each student an iPad — and why they’re going to do it again
- http://tinyurl.com/2c59ocq See how this high school is using sophisticated electronic gadgets across all subjects
Edutopia. (n.d.). What is technology integration? Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-description
U.S. Department of Education. (2010) National Education Technology Plan 2010 Executive Summary. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010