Bridging the gap between technology integration and common core standards in the classroom

11/27/2011
Curriculum Choices
ED MURPHY

Google. YouTube. Wikipedia. All are household names, all are online staples that aren’t going away anytime soon and all are new faces of academic research in the last five years. Could the phrase “hit the books” actually be heading into obscurity? Has the “reference” section of the library become a virtual non-entity? What many teachers, especially veterans, have feared for academic research since the advent of the Internet has become an unquestionable reality: technology has infiltrated the education realm. image

In today’s increasingly digital age, technology integration in theclassroom is perhaps the best way to engage students and utilize a wealthof tools and resources, while make learning fun.

The pervasiveness of technology is not a threat to young minds across America or a death sentence to education as we know it — in fact, it’s quite the opposite. In today’s increasingly digital age, technology integration in the classroom is perhaps the best way to engage students and utilize a wealth of tools and resources, while make learning fun.

In today’s heavily “wired” world, technology is vital for preparing students for the future — the internet in particular has drastically accelerated the speed at which connections between listening, reading and writing can be made. Up-to-date technology in the classroom is beneficial both as an academic tool and a mode of communication in the 21st century classroom.

What does this reality mean for the recent adoption of the Common Core Standards in classrooms across America? Many question whether the core standards leave enough room for teachers to use technology and digital media strategically and capably — a gap that presents a real issue today more than ever. Technology is a challenge that teachers and parents alike must face head on; no matter how unfamiliar they are with nuances of the digital world.

Let’s explore the goals of the recently adopted Common Core Standards and why technology is an ideal — and indispensable — agent to meeting these goals.

The Common Core Standards: Some Overarching Goals

With the recent adoption of the Common Core State Standards across classrooms in the U.S., parents and teachers are finally provided a clear and consistent understanding of what students are expected to learn. Designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, the standards reflect the knowledge and skills that young people need to succeed in both college and the professional world. Although the Common Core Standards alone cannot improve the quality of K-12 education, they provide several undeniable benefits for students, teachers and parents alike:

  • Clear and synchronous academic expectations for teachers and students;
  • Seamless transition for students relocating or transferring schools across state lines;
  • Coast-to-coast collaboration for teachers as they adapt and enrich common standards with learning activities and new best practices;
  • Alignment of textbooks, digital media and instructional materials for publishers and educational developers; and
  • Unified standards that support the development of a comprehensive and consistent assessment system.

Technology: A Help or Hindrance to These Goals?

A top fear about technology integration — and certainly not an unwarranted one — is academic dishonesty. Although the Internet is typically today’s primary research tool, should it be the primary tool with which today’s students learn to research academic topics? While the internet is undoubtedly a vast source of information, students run the risk of using unaccredited content as the foundation to their research — or worse, arriving on inappropriate Web sites all because of bad syntax in a search engine.

The problem is not technology itself — it’s the type of technology teachers use to meet these goals. With the proper use of technology and enforced guidelines, students can learn the various strengths of technological tools and how best to utilize them to meet academic goals.

But kids today get technology — what about teachers?

From Facebook to Twitter to the online gaming community, surfing the Internet is as instinctual as breathing to many 21st century kids. While today’s child or teenager views technology as a way of life, the concept of a technology-based classroom can be daunting to teachers still struggling with the ever-changing world of edtech.

To put it simply: teachers today must learn, too. To know the nuances of technology is to truly hold the power to engage a classroom. With the lofty goals of the Common Core Standards, schools must provide teachers with the proper tools to meet these goals — whether that be software, in-person tutorials or written resources. A few top reasons why:

Traditional text books are budgeted to last six to seven years. Teachers will have to use technology to bridge this gap and stay current.

Without proper guidance and instruction from educators, technology will not help students to meet the standards. A laptop or mobile device in the hands of a student is not technology, it’s only the hardware. What’s important is how students learn to utilize this hardware through the guidance of a teacher, even if students are already incredibly well-versed with technology.

If teachers themselves have a better understanding of technology, it will be easier for them to re-think assignments that introduce the use of technology for research and assignments.

Active vs. Passive: A Change in Student and Teacher Roles

Until the recent introduction of technology in the classroom, the inevitable tendency of students to drift off, stare out the window or doodle mindlessly in school can be largely attributed to the rather passive nature of education. That’s not to say teachers have not actively engaged students — it just means that students have traditionally been recipients of information transmitted by a teacher or textbook. Technology, on the other hand, presents boundless opportunity for students to take on a much more active role in the learning process.

Technology also presents drastic changes for the usual role of a teacher. He or she is no longer the center of attention as the dispenser of information, but rather plays the role of facilitator by setting project goals and providing guidelines and resources, moving from student to student or group to group, providing suggestions and support for student activity. As students work on their technology-supported products, the teacher rotates through the room, looking over shoulders and suggesting resources that might be used.

Necessary Tools

Many Internet tools are collaborative and all are hands-on. Applications that allow for the creation of timelines, videos or other dynamic presentations offer a welcome change from lectures or note-taking. Even better, there’s an element of excitement when students’ work is available for viewing on the Internet. A few top technology options in the classroom include:

  • Video-on-demand resources with search engines and content correlated to common core,
  • Digital text books with imbedded video content,
  • Talking word processors,
  • Cognitive organizers,
  • Alternative keyboards, and
  • Online learning games, quizzes, forums, lesson plans and teacher feedback.

The Bottom Line: Technology Can Bridge the Gap

When students utilize technology as a tool, they are actively making choices about how to generate, obtain, manipulate or display information. They’re thinking about information, making choices and executing skills — as opposed to a typical teacher-led lesson where even the best and brightest might sit in silence. More so than ever before, students are in a position to define their goals, make their own decisions and evaluate their progress.

Success in the 21st century classroom has become far more dependent on students obtaining a well-rounded skill set as opposed to reaching an academic comprehension level. Bridging the gap between technological integration and the Common Core standards is the first step toward improving our education system and molding brighter leaders for tomorrow.

Ed Murphy is the vice president of marketing and business development at Learn360, an on demand multi-media and streaming video provider to the K-12 education market. For more information, visit www.learn360.com.
Comments & Ratings
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  Comments

  2/4/2012 9:57:58 AM
Lexie Goodhart 


New Comment 
I enjoyed reading this article, I believe it was honest and offered credible thoughts about technology in the classroom. I am excited to take his course and learn more about this new and growing popular teaching tool.
I am twenty-three years old and grew up in a technology driven era, although when it comes to teaching using technology, I am apprehensive. I do believe the use of technology can strongly gain the interest of students, and therefore students have the potential to learn a lot more. However, finding and using proper technology to teach with is difficult.
I do believe that it is necessary for schools to ask all teachers, especially those who have been teaching for awhile to participate in professional development programs to help aid the teachers with ways to use technology in the classroom. It is not something that we can ignore because there are so many great teaching tools to use. Students need to feel proactive in the classroom, more now than ever, and using technology will not only gain their interest but also allow them to actively participate in the lesson.
Over all I believe this article does a good job explaining not only the positives of using technology in the classroom, but how this is an undeniable aspect of teaching that needs to be addressed.
  2/1/2012 4:11:54 PM
Lexie Goodhart 


New Comment 
I enjoyed reading this article, I believe it was honest and offered credible thoughts about technology in the classroom. I am excited to take his course and learn more about this new and growing popular teaching tool.
I am twenty-three years old and grew up in a technology driven era, although when it comes to teaching using technology, I am apprehensive. I do believe the use of technology can strongly gain the interest of students, and therefore students have the potential to learn a lot more. However, finding and using proper technology to teach with is difficult.
I do believe that it is necessary for schools to ask all teachers, especially those who have been teaching for awhile to participate in professional development programs to help aid the teachers with ways to use technology in the classroom. It is not something that we can ignore because there are so many great teaching tools to use. Students need to feel proactive in the classroom, more now than ever, and using technology will not only gain their interest but also allow them to actively participate in the lesson.
Over all I believe this article does a good job explaining not only the positives of using technology in the classroom, but how this is an undeniable aspect of teaching that needs to be addressed
  2/1/2012 10:33:18 AM
Claire Grosso 


New Comment 
I did enjoy reading this article. There is a lot of information provided in such a short amount of text.

I am not very technology savvy, but can usually figure things out if given the time to do so. With that being said I think that teacher workshops and professional development workshops are a must when new technology is introduced in a school building. Technology can be a great thing if used properly and as the article said, teachers are the facilitators during technology based lessons. Teachers must be comfortable and knowledgeable with the materials so they can instruct the students on how to use them effectively.

I also thought the part in the article that talked about how textbooks are supposed to last 7ish years was a great thing to mention. Textbooks are expensive and schools cannot afford to buy them every year to keep up with the changes in the world. People don't always consider this fact when thinking about the tools their students are using in a classroom. I think this in itself is a great argument to why technology is so important to have in each classroom. Students need to be aware of the world as it is today in order to compare it to the world five years ago.

I also thought Rosie made a great point about funding in different school districts. Some districts can afford Smart Boards for each classroom and I know of one school that just got their first Elmo in the whole building. It is great to think that we can bridge all of these gaps for students, but in reality, the wealthier schools will still be further ahead than the poorer schools.

Technology makes great advances quickly and it is up to teachers to be on top of those changes and do their best to learn them and implement them when possible. It wont always be easy, but it needs to be done as effectively as possible.
  1/30/2012 5:59:46 PM
Kristan Spencer 


New Comment 
Seham you make a great point saying that web based research and proper citations are a difficult task to master. There is so much information and so many ways of citing, however starting children at a younger age will help them master it as they get older.
Rosie I also agree that financing is a huge concern in making this happen.

The article also brought a few new ideas to my attention. I love the new common core standards which make the curriculum more consistent across states. I think that will help greatly in student transfers, as well as bridging a gap. With the aid of technology students who are less likely to have it in their homes will be able to access it and learn it in school, leveling out the playing field when students reach college age.

I also agree that student’s attention has changed over time. I heard once from a professor that it is almost like student’s minds are programmed for 10 minutes of programming and 5 minutes of commercials. By adding technology into the classroom, students engagement time may increase, which in turn would increase the education of students nationwide.
The last point I have to make stems from a debate that was brought up in a staff meeting. Although I am pro- technology in the classroom and think it is necessary, should teachers leave out skills such as looking up words in a dictionary, learning how to use the library catalogues and finding telephone numbers in a phone book? These are all things that can be done effortlessly on the internet and may be extinct in the future. Are they skills we still teach or do we teach children how to find these things on google?

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