What is Technology Integration in Education?
Technology Integration is using tech-based resources such as mobiles, smart boards, social media platforms, computers, software and the wider internet in daily classroom and teaching practices. Technology shouldn’t be incorporated into education for the sake of it, instead it should add value and richness to both students and teachers. This is why each piece of Technology to Teach tool should be carefully chosen with deliberate logic and purpose, and be compatible with the learning objectives of a subject, class or school.
The types of Technology to Teach approaches covered in this article are;
- Virtual Learning Environments – VLEs
- Technology assisted asynchronous and synchronous Interactions
- Digital Media & Gamification tools
Technology to Teach #1: Virtual Learning Environments
A Virtual Learning Environment [VLE], also known as Learning Management Systems [LMS], are web-based, educational platforms that act as an online teaching medium. A VLE functions as a primary, online resource centre for students and is often integrated with student databases and grading systems. Originally used for online or distance learning courses, it is now used for on-campus courses as well.
Adopted by almost every English speaking tertiary educational institution in the world, VLEs are now growing in popularity in higher end private schools, where high technology penetration and access to the internet is the norm.
Two ways Teachers and educators can use this Technology to Teach is;
- Online quizzes
Online quizzes are quicker to implement than paper based ones. Good VLE’s come with an easy to use quiz design function that any instructor can use, and student answers can be automatically vetted and graded. This allows instructors to incorporate quizzes both as a teaching tool and one that can be used to evaluate the progress made on specific learning objectives
- Online discussion forums
Not ever student is comfortable speaking or participating in front of others. Online discussion forums can help engage with reticent students, allowing them to add their perspective to a lesson plan without feeling intimidated. In addition, students can share related media with their classmates such as videos, news features, interesting articles, thus enriching the lesson topic.
Technology to Teach #2: Asynchronous and Synchronous Interactions
Student-teacher interactions are are vital to achieving learning objectives and course outcomes. They are the foundation on which student-teacher relationships are built on, which in turn play a strong role in motivating individuals to perform at their best.
Synchronous teaching is real-time, face-to-face teaching. Once relegated to classroom based teaching, the global pandemic has now made online technology platforms such as Zoom, VLEs etc. a necessary teaching tool for synchronous learning. Live lectures are an important facet of synchronous learning, and one that can also be held online. Additionally, chatting, Q&A sessions, phone calls or in-person conversations fall in this category, as the interaction and response is immediate.
Asynchronous means ‘out-of-sync’ and is delayed teaching that is not done in real-time. Technology to Teach with asynchronous learning is accomplished through pre-recorded webinars, online videos, discussion boards and other activities that can be tackled at a student’s own pace. The time-lags caused by Asynchronous teaching allows students to process information better, thus improving retention and recall.
Technology to Teach #3: Digital Media & Gamification Tools
The Internet is a powerful medium and if utilised correctly, can be an immensely effective teaching tool. It’s power to distract as much as it is to teach is what makes it a more challenging tool for teachers. This is especially true when it comes to Social Media platforms and Gamification.
Learning as a social activity is quite beneficial, as it fosters a high degree of interaction between students. Group projects can further enhance this, by promoting interactiveness.
Gamification – applying elements of gaming to other activities – is an interesting way of adding interactivity to a classroom setting for eg, Leaderboards. While individual leaderboards can be demotivating for students with learning challenges, team based leaderboards can encourage collaboration, team building and teach students how to communicate with one another to find solutions and resolve conflicts.
Digital Media as a Technology to Teach tool can range from online videos, blogs, wikis etc. Not only can these resources add more context to a topic, but teachers can encourage students to create or co-create social media content about topics they are learning.
For example, when talking about nature and conservation, students can be told to take videos of flora, fauna and insects they find in their backyard. This can highlight the diversity of life, even within the same town or community.
Another example would be to have them take videos/images of graffiti they find and then discuss where the line between art, self-expression and vandalism lies. These images can be uploaded to a class blog or the school’s VLE, so that students feel that their content has value outside of just the classroom.