Meaningful Technology and Curriculum

4 Utilizing Technology Across the Horizon

Nicholas Campbell

Nic Campbell (nc10yo@gmail.com)
University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Abstract

This chapter seeks to identify the different ways in which technology can be used within the curriculum. The benefits, as well barriers of technology are identified in regards to instruction, assessment, integration, and more. Specifically, the curriculum components of Mathematics, English, Science, Social Studies, and Visual Arts are examined on how technology can be used within these courses. Technology can be used to examine different regions of the world, provide instant assessment feedback, as a manipulative or aid, but can also be costly and time consuming for teachers and students.  Different types of technology that can be integrated throughout the curriculum are virtual manipulative’s, computer games, iPads, and more. It is important to note that education has always depended on technology. However, as technology advances our professional development and training must advance as well, therefore teachers and other staff members can effectively implement technology throughout the curriculum.

Keywords: Assessment, Barriers, Curriculum, Evolution, Exploration, Integration, Technology, Manipulative, Problem-Solving, Virtual Manipulative

Introduction

Technology is a resource to be utilized within the classroom and education system. With the integration of technology educators can meet the needs of a variety of students and provide engaging lessons. As we continue to promote problem-based learning and exploration in the classroom, technology allows us to move away from traditional teaching styles and into inquiry-based learning. Technology can be used throughout the curriculum for many purposes such as manipulatives, a research tool, an assessment tool, and more. Technology can motivate students, provide efficient results, and allow for multiple learning opportunities in the classroom and in a global community. However, technology also has many barriers to implementation throughout the curriculum.

Background

Technology can be used for a variety of procedures within the curriculum. Technology can be used to present material through PowerPoint, with manipulatives for mathematics, analyzing data and hypothetical scenarios for Science, or being exposed to different cultures and regions for Social Studies through video chat and other forms of media. With technology Waight and Abd-El-Khalick  (2012) suggest that authentic inquiry can be initiated through exploration and investigation, which promotes student thinking and social constructivism.

Evolution

Technology has rapidly evolved and become an important part of education in today’s society. However, as suggested by Roschelle, Shechtman, Hegedus, Hopkins, Empson. Knudsen, and Gallagher (2010) technology in mathematics has been around for centuries dating back to Socrates, ancient societies using an abacus, and even the introduction of the calculator. With the continuous development and advancements in technology, there can be consistent improvements within teaching methods and opportunities for student learning.

Video Games

Not only are video games relevant in most households across our nation, but they are also used in the classroom. Video games can be a resource to allow students to practice skills through exploration or to acquire assets in a game while working on curriculum objectives. Ruggiero (2017) states “video games support learning by providing opportunities for exploring and manipulating virtual objects” (p.296). With the use of relevant software’s and systems we can allow students to become invested in their learning.

Virtual Manipulative

While most classrooms have physical manipulative in their teaching space, a great way to engage students is through virtual manipulative. With virtual manipulative as suggested by Bouck and Flanagan (2010) students are able to perform the same procedures as they would with physical manipulative but have an endless supply of resources and often are provided with prompts or cues within the software or program. This resource allows us to meet the needs of a variety of students and provide hands on experiences. Various examples of virtual manipulative are “Jumbled Sentences” (2013), “Fractions” (2011), or “iLearn: Continents and Oceans” (2015).

Applications

The curriculum is designed to be a stepping-stone to strategic and higher order thinking throughout a student’s educational journey. Each year the curriculum develops and elaborates on previous concepts or introduces students to more detailed or complex concepts. As technology is an influential part of society it is essential to maintain student engagement as well to make learning fun. Technology can be used in the curriculum for a variety of ways ranging from manipulatives, games, exploration tools, assessment tools, and more. Technology turns our classrooms into an exploration paradise, as explained by Heald (2016) with technology our classrooms become student centered and provide more opportunities for gifted learners and learners of different abilities. In order to make the current curriculum more engaging and suitable to today’s learners, we must identify how technology can be used across the horizon of the curriculum.

Math

While mathematics has set arithmetic there are still many opportunities for the use of technology.  As students evolve throughout their education, mathematics becomes more difficult and abstract; a student’s understanding requires connections to the curriculum (Roschelle et al., 2010 p. 834). Technology in mathematics can be used for reasons as identified by Roschelle et al. (2010) through the use of visualization and interaction of geometric figures, using wireless networks for formative assessment, and to promote higher order thinking through a motivating environment. Along with these examples, Bouck and Flanagan (2010) identifies that students can use virtual manipulatives for concepts such as perimeter and area to use shapes to cover other areas and manipulate these areas to solve other problems. Virtual manipulatives allow students to view a problem and solution from multiple perspectives.

Science

Technology is a complex subject, which requires visuals for students to fully understand the concepts. As identified by Hilton and Hilton (2013) with technology teachers can use multimedia resources and dynamic learning tools to show such concepts as molecular modeling, animations or mutations, and other simulations, which provide a deeper understanding for students. As the student’s interest moves towards technology, the idea of emphasizing this resources is supported by Hilton and Hilton (2013) as traditional teaching with text books is no longer applicable, as students are interested in the dynamics of digital technologies in the classroom for delivery, representation, and assessment. As explained, technology can be used for not only Mathematics but Science as well.

English

As English focuses on comprehension and writing skills through literature, technology still plays an important role. As noted by Mehmet (2004) with technology in English class we can consider student interests and individual aptitude in order to integrate relevant material for students. With technology we can expand the horizon of student learning, as well as mentioned by Gomleksiz (2004) using technology gives students an opportunity to retain information more efficiently. Aside from retention, an opportunity that can be provided to students is the use of speech-to-text software, which enables students to demonstrate their learning without either the oral or written component of assessment. Speech-to-text tools are applicable to English Second Language learners and other learners in a diverse classroom.

Social Studies

With technology we can connect with other classrooms across the globe and explore different regions through the use of Google Maps, Facetime, and more. With resources such as online libraries we can explore history and artifacts from centuries ago, as well different perspectives. As recognized by Debele & Plevyak (2012) technology can be used to examine wars through gaming, recreate eras or historical scenes through multimedia, and analyze economics, politics, geography, and history. Additionally, students can use technology to connect events through imagery and historical artifacts of war as well cause and effect relationships with technology (Debele & Plevyak. 2012).

Visual Arts

One-way to influence student expression as well mental health is through visual arts. Implementing traditional materials such as crayons, pastels, and clay becomes repetitive over time. Technology can be integrated into Visual Arts through the use of I-Movie to create mini-motion pictures, Adobe software’s to enhance or manipulate photographs, and other research tools to investigate the theory of modern and historic arts.

Implementation

As there is still a transition period for implementing technology within the curriculum, there is a need to identify the advantages of technology oppose to traditional teaching. As explained by Sharlett (2007) faculty and students are identifying that technology impacts the quality of education, teaching, learning, student motivation and engagement, and the intensity of career preparation. Therefore, the implementation of technology in the curriculum is already being identified to be more beneficial for students and schools. Additionally, as explained by Sharlett (2007) students with different learning needs, such as visual learners, learn best through multi-sensory approaches, which consist of using technology. To support this idea, Sharlett (2007) also states that over 60% of students are visual learners, therefore supporting the implementation of technology rather than traditional teaching with physical resources. Overall, technology is an effective resource for teaching and should be integrated across the curriculum.

Implications

Although technology is a very useful resource there are many implications with this tool. Technology such as an iPad is an expensive resource to own as an individual, as well to purchase a large quantity for a school. As explained by Kalyanpur & Kirmani (2005) technology provides almost unlimited access to individuals, which can be harmful for digital literacy, privacy, and exposure to inappropriate material. Utilizing technology in the classroom requires professional development for staff and training for students in order to utilize the resource. Some other major challenges of technology is cultural integration, inadequate teacher training programs, reliability of technology, and issues of access for internet and software (Waight & Abd-El-Khalick. 2012). Another negative effect of technology as explained by Farley (2017) is that technology and virtual software’s make us as individuals believe that we are achieving more than we actually are, as the software is doing most of the work for us. As identified, despite the great benefits of using technology there are also barriers and negative influences of technology.

Conclusions and Future Recommendations

All points considered, technology certainly can be used across the horizon within the curriculum. The meaning of across the horizon is to identify that technology can be used from one end of the curriculum spectrum to the other, whether this is Mathematics, English, Science, Social Studies, Visual Art, and more. With Mathematics, teachers can use virtual manipulative for learning activities such as equivalent fractions, in English students can use an iPad for reading, in Science we can test hypothesis through technology, and Social Studies we can examine the world we live in through more in-depth lenses. Aside from these great ways to integrate technology into the curriculum, there are many steps to be taken within Post-Secondary education, Professional Development, and within each classroom. In order to utilize technology there must be reliable resources such as Internet and a quantity of the resource to be manageable, such as a class set of iPads. As well, there must be more teachers and student training implemented in Bachelor of Education programs, within school boards, and technology classes. Staff and students must know how to use technology responsibly and boards or divisions must make the investment to acquire technology in order to be utilized and maximized within the curriculum.

References

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Technology and the Curriculum: Summer 2018 by Nicholas Campbell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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