Technology is changing by the minute, which is impacting the classroom in evolving, overwhelming, and far-reaching ways, much the same as it is altering our lives outside of the classroom. The fast-paced nature of the changes is also widening the gap between students who are prepared to face the technology changes of the future and those who are not being prepared. According to Bauer and Kenton (2005) this happening for a number of reasons, including expense, training, the skill levels of both the teachers and the students, and availability of the Internet. The gap is not easy to fix and will require work on many different levels from many different corners of education. However, there is much that can be done in the classroom to prepare students for their technology futures when teachers work together, technology change occurs, and classrooms become communities of learners.
When addressing best practices for technology use and its spread of use, Clark (2006) stated, “peer-to-peer sharing among teacher leaders is the preferred mode of knowledge acquisition.” (p. 495) Teachers help teachers. Together teachers can plan, they can encourage one another, they can work out the kinks of technology, they can offer realistic advice, and they can vent when the network goes down in the middle of that beautifully planned technology-rich lesson. Especially on a high school level where teachers are often in the contained islands that are their classrooms, collaboration is a necessary intentional step for teachers to take if their classrooms are to become an environment where technology can develop.
Students thrive when they are in consistent environments. Teachers know this and create procedures for picking up papers, going to the bathroom, turning in assignments, and running class discussions. However, within this stable environment, we need to allow the flexibility of change required when using technology to teach and learn. We need to try different ways of teaching. We need to try different software and websites than what we have always used. Then we need to require the same thing of our students. Technology should not “become relegated to use as a fancy worksheet or textbook, where students engage in another one-dimensional task.”; instead, technology use in the classroom should be transformative (Van Hover, Berson, Bolick, & Swan, 2006, p. 277). This will lead to failure, maybe even a lot of failure at first. Change does that, but the struggle of change also leads to development and strength. Being willing to change technology, for both teachers and students, requires courage and risk that can lead to growth and a new way of learning.
The use of technology in the classroom should “actually move the pedagogy forward” (Van Hover, Berson, Bolick, & Swan, 2006, p. 277). Change in the classroom’s technology should also change the way we teach, from the traditional teacher-as-expert model, to the constructivist model where the students and teachers come together as a community of learners with the teacher-as-guide. When technology is at hand in a classroom, the students can be responsible for their own knowledge, while the teacher is able to direct the students to a deeper understanding, and, within the framework of the state and national curriculum standards, students can have more choice in the direction of the class.
Bauer, J. & Kenton, J. (2005). Toward Technology Integration in the Schools: Why It Isn’t Happening. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 13(4), 519-546. Norfolk, VA: Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education.
Clark, K. (2006). Practices for the Use of Technology in High Schools: A Delphi Study. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 14(3), 481-499. Chesapeake, VA: Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education.
Van Hover, S., Berson, M., Mason Bolick, C. & Owings Swan, K. (2006). Implications of Ubiquitous Computing for the Social Studies Curriculum. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 6(2), 275-283. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).