As a teacher in the 21st Century, it is impossible to ignore technology. From cell phones to social networking, even the youngest students are surrounded by the latest technology on a daily basis. Because technology has become such an integral part of students’ lives, if you fail to integrate it into your classroom, you do a major disservice for your students.
Challenges with Technology
Unfortunately, including technology takes time. If you want students to create a brochure using Microsoft Publisher, you have to teach them how to navigate the program. Ask students to blog and you have to spend at least one class period helping them learn how to navigate the website and post a new blog. When you have a million standards to cover, every moment you spend teaching students how to use a new piece of software or navigate a new web 2.0 application takes away from time you could be covering the standards. Many teachers use the loss of time as an excuse to not include more technology in their lesson plans.
The Importance of Technology
Students need to understand mathematical concepts and have a background of historical facts. They need to develop their reading skills and learn how to conduct a scientific experiment. Your students also live in an age where every lack of knowledge is Googled to give them instant access to how-to videos, articles from experts and Wikipedia entries on nearly every topic imaginable. Help students learn to effectively conduct those Google searches and distinguish good information from bad or navigate a new web application by putting a few of those less important standards on the back burner.
The Teacher’s Role
Your goal as a teacher is to teach students the knowledge and skills they need to be successful when they leave school. Phrases like “develop productive citizens” and “create successful students” are included in school and district mission statements throughout the country. Being able to recognize the symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird will not help a student become a successful, productive citizen as much as learning how to effectively use technology will.
While incorporating technology in the classroom takes away from time focused on the standards, the skills students learn while using technology far outweigh the few facts you may overlook. With every piece of new technology you incorporate into your lesson plans, you introduce students to a new tool for putting to use all of the standards-based knowledge and skills they are required to learn.