It is the responsibility of all educators to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s world. In order to produce productive, employable citizens we must recognize that technology is an integral part of society and begin weaving it into our curriculum. Teachers must learn to use technology and find creative ways to include it in their classroom lessons.
As a business instructor it is my responsibility to teach students about business and technology including how to use various technologies; scanners, digital video cameras, and software programs. Generally, I facilitate the learning of these technologies while I teach the other material. Teaching through technology enables my students to learn about technology. As a teacher and a student I have taken numerous computer courses. Through all of them I learned that in order to understand how a particular technology works one must use it for a real purpose.
Many non-computer users see little practical classroom application, or they have an intense fear of computers. I am always amazed at the difference between adult and child learners. A child approaching the computer for the first time, without being shown anything at all, will instantly know how to use the mouse, understand the desktop and begin “surfing” the net while their adult counterpart worries he will touch a wrong button and blowup the mysterious hard drive. Teachers must be encouraged to release their fears and accept their responsibilities as both users and learners of technology.
You cannot get an entire generation of non-computer users to integrate technology into their classroom without showing them how to use technology in their everyday lives. The International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) Standards for Preparing Teachers call for teachers to be able to use computer technology in problem-solving, decision making, data management and to design and develop activities for technology with skills in using a variety of presentation, applications and utility software.
Teachers who use technology in their classrooms also use technology in their personal and professional life. These teachers have discovered, most likely on their own, how to use the various technologies they implement in their classes.
Teacher training must be altered to initiate insight and understanding rather than “here’s some lesson plans you can use to try out all that new equipment your school just got”. We can no longer merely show teachers in a 2 hour in-service how to use a technology and expect them to successfully implement it in their classes. The integration of technology should be used to support current curriculum and to enhance student understanding of the subject being taught – NOT merely for the sake of using technology. If you walk into a classroom and see a student operating a computer and ask him what he is doing and he replies “I’m playing on the computer” he is not effectively using technology. If that same student replies, “I’m creating a pie chart to include in my geography slideshow presentation that demonstrates the difference in population between cities” then he is using technology successfully.
It isn’t feasible to think we can show teachers how to do something with computers without them actually learning to use them. Attempting to use computers or other technology in the classroom with no understanding of how it works would be like hiring a pilot to fly you across country only to find him constantly referring to the pilot’s manual. Teachers need to be technology users first and classroom implementation will follow.
Our objective is the integration of technology into other curriculum. Technology is one of many tools that educators can use in their classrooms to aid student learning similar to the way maps, rulers, protractors and textbooks are used. Educators must first learn to use various technologies in their personal and professional lives before they can successfully implement their use in a classroom setting.