Is having access to technology enough for student achievement? The access to technology is just one part of the learning process in today’s classrooms. In the modern classroom, teachers must possess digital skills beyond that of a functional use. Having the ability to use technology in a meaningful way to facilitate exploration and collaboration is a critical component of engaging learning environments. Computer networks organized to facilitate file-sharing, e-mail, and high definition content allow students and teachers to share work and communicate easily. Connections to the Internet and software that supports real-time communication, such as collaborative writing, videoconferencing, and shared whiteboards make learning authentic, immediate, and relevant in a way that no other instructional strategies can. Multimedia authoring products and simulation design tools also are critical to these learning environments. Driven by the requirements of state and federal mandates, increasingly affordable technology, and a growing belief that computers, telecommunications and technology does improve the education process, schools throughout the world have placed this onus on the classroom teacher to deliver. To put it into perspective, it would be like entering the arena of a very familiar game with basic skills, but everyone watching expects greatness and those you teach are natural learners!”
This article touches on some of the underpinnings of ICT implementation, student achievement, and curriculum integration as it relates to student motivation, collaboration and “higher order thinking” skills on the forefront of technology rich schools. In this setting, these digital technologies must serve four distinct purposes: (1) as traditional uses, drill and practice, rote learning processes (2) as simulations and real world experiences to develop cognitive thinking and to extend learning (3) for conventional uses, the internet and related information technology and (4) as word processors, to manage, to store information, to solve problems and to produce sophisticated products and assignments for the users (Fouts, 2000).
The challenge we face is to develop 21 century educators with skills into design and practices that are adequate for the modern classroom: And if you are reading this article you are proactive enough to evaluate the impact of your presence in a digital world and making headway into strategies to engage and connect with this technology. Whereas, the need for this technology in the classroom is a matter of necessity. In a standard school, there is not a subject limited by the use of technology in modern classrooms and yet some classrooms around the world have a massive void to overcome on both points being discussed.
To obtain support for changes in a school, there must be an increasingly collaborative partnership between the teachers, administrators, technology coordinators, students, school board members, parents, architects and even building designers. Apart from home, the classroom is where students spend most of their childhood. Thus, the driving impetus for change must be that the student output will improve, and faculty and administration performance will also be enhanced. They must also accept that the teaching, learning and administrative process will be immeasurably improved if the environment within which these activities are taking place is “user friendly, technology-rich and wholly supported”. I summarise my key points in my BLAISZ-eD principles: BYOB, Literacy-
Baker, E. L., & Herman, J. L. (in press). Technology and evaluation. In G. Haertel & B. Means (Eds.), Approaches to evaluating the impact of educational technology.New York: Teachers College Press.
Fouts, Jeffrey (February 2000). Research on Computers and Education: Past, Present, and Future. Prepared for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. www.gatesfoundation.org/nr/downloads/ed/researchevaluation/ComputerResearchSummary.pdf
Siegel, J. (1994) No computer know how. Electronic Learning, 13(5), 58.