Monday, January 14, 2013

Some Thoughts and Trends on the Integration of Technology into Education
I have taught computers/software (Windows and Mac OS) at the K-12, college, and corporate levels. Earlier, I was a science/math teacher in grades 7-9. I served as the computer coordinator in a public school system in the 80's and 90's. I am currently retired, but continue to keep abreast of trends in technology.
What follows are my observations and recommendations regarding technology integration into schools. Also, included are my predictions on how technology will impact education now and in years to come:

1. The three primary uses of technology in education are: (1) a tool to facilitate student research and writing, (2) an instructional delivery system for students and faculty, and (3) as a records storage and management system for teachers and administrators.

2. Generally, the younger the teacher or administrator the more open they will be to technology integration.

3. Full technology integration into K-12 education will occur ultimately over time as younger teachers and administrators enter the workforce. Having grown up in the Information Age, they will be thoroughly familiar with computers and will advocate their use in education.

4. Teachers should expect and not be intimidated by students whose facility with technology exceeds their own.

5. Integration of technology is more likely to succeed where the board of education and administration are firmly supportive.

6. Schools and colleges should seek the least costly purchase of hardware and software that will meet the goals of their technology plan. Budgetary constraints can be a major deterrent to integration. Costs can be reduced substantially when:
a. the bidding is open to all providers of hardware.
b. schools use fast-speed internet and the cloud in place of expensive,
hard-wired local area networks (LAN's)
c. on-line instruction for certain courses is implemented
d. electronic libraries and e-books are implemented (see #10 below)
e. most record keeping and office procedures are performed
Regrettably, 6c, 6d, and 6e could result in savings due to reductions in staff.

7. Teachers should have input in deciding the kind of instructional software they would like to use. Some of these programs can be developed at the local level and be designed to correlate with the school's curriculum objectives. Publishers of software should never be the primary drivers of curricula.

8. All students should have access to technology for reading, writing, and research while at school and at home. Schools should loan computers to students who do not have them.

9. Courses consisting of on-line instruction (usually supported by seminars) will increase over the years, especially at the high school and college levels. This will allow more students to meet graduation requirements at their own pace. Motivated students could graduate from high school or college in less than four years.

10.Eventually, libraries will become completely electronic: loaning books and textbooks as downloads to student computers (tablets, laptops, or desktops.) They will also dispense on-line learning. The use of physical books will decline resulting in substantial reductions in costs. Textbooks will be updated continuously via the internet rather than being replaced periodically. Electronic libraries will require much less space.

11. Instructional software should utilize the principles of programmed learning where possible and be available at school and at home. These programs would evaluate student progress continuously.

12. Feedback is the mother of progress: All teachers should have access to a classroom management system that tracks student attendance and academic progress. These systems should automatically calculate a student's progress as each mark is entered. Students and parents will be kept informed of progress continuously via the internet rather than periodically with report cards as is often the current practice.

13. Professional staff should realize that technology is progressing at a rapid pace and that upgrading of our skills is ongoing and necessary.

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