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Re-Thinking Technology – Gartner

Key Findings
• Classroom technologies such as computers, software and related peripherals have followed a growth path that began with guidelines for distribution and led to efforts for integration. • Integrating technology into the curriculum is primarily a content-specific initiative that is valuable in establishing technology as a tool for instruction. • Integrating curriculum with technology is a transformational practice that underscores the value of technology as essential to multidisciplinary curriculum.

Recommendations
• Avoid deploying classroom technology without clear alignment to curriculum and a plan to train, support and evaluate the use of the technologies for instruction. • Continue to work with content leaders to integrate technologies into their curriculum area by helping them with technical and pedagogical planning. • Expand the integration discussion to a multidisciplinary curriculum approach — become the catalyst to transform education by integrating curriculum with technology.

Four recognizable stages in the growth of classroom technologies: (1) Distributed technologies
(2) Embedded technology activities
(3) Technology cohesive with curriculum; and
(4) Curriculum integrated through technology.

Stage One Distributed Technologies
As the personal computer gained popularity and became available for classroom use, early efforts centered on building inventories of classroom computers. Student-to-computer ratio became a de facto standard. At best, the impact of technology was muted by: (1) relatively low computer density; (2) technical rather than pedagogical teacher training; and (3) embryonic curriculum development or acceptance among curriculum planners.

Stage Two Embedded Technology Activities
As computers became more common in classrooms — either by design or through grassroots efforts by individual schools or teachers — more computer activities were added to the existing curriculum through isolated instructional activities. There was somewhat of a movement away from dependence on content-specific software (i.e., drill and practice for basic arithmetic facts) and toward productivity tools such as word processing. Teacher use of technology grew with the deployment of computer workstations connected to widescreen televisions (and, eventually, to projection devices) for large group instruction. Presentation programs became popular to present lesson objectives or display drill activities for the beginning of class. Unfortunately, many school administrators looked at this as fulfilling the teachers' requirement to use technology in the classroom. Too often, this led to describing instructional technology as "death by PowerPoint."

Stage Three Technology Cohesive With Curriculum (Technology Integration) As integrating technology into curriculum became a recognized goal, it has resulted in the inclusion of technology-based activities as part of the curriculum planning process. This remains primarily content-area specific, and has led to a cohesiveness between the prescribed (and, hopefully, delivered) curriculum and the appropriate technologies. Consider, for example, the use of computer workstations and software in business education programs that prepare students for entry into the world of work. The technology and the curriculum are, in a sense, indistinguishable. Technology cohesion emphasizes the use of technology resources as a pedagogical tool that places the emphasis on the learning objectives rather than the technology itself. To students, the cohesiveness reflects the way technology is a natural part of their daily lives.

Stage Four Curriculum Integrated With Technology (Curriculum Integration) The fourth stage — curriculum integrated through technology — results from the evolutionary pathway set by the prior three stages. In a sense, rethinking technology integration means a reversal of the burden of proof for technology in education. Rather than asking technology leaders for evidence that technology has been integrated into the curriculum, it challenges curriculum planners to take advantage of the unique transformational power of technology to bring together disparate resources that address the challenges of multidisciplinary studies. As that occurs, expect to see students in the same classroom selecting and using forms of educational technology that may be different from their classmates, but that address the same learning objectives. For example, a group of students (not necessarily in a classroom) challenged to develop a project plan for building a new community recreation center may at any one time be using a laptop, a desktop, a netbook or a smartphone and going to disparate online resources to research the social, political, engineering or fiscal aspects of the p...

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