Dr. Mike Thomas, K-12 Technology Instructional Specialist (E-Mail)
For the last several years, schools’ primary goal for technology has been to equip classrooms with computers and to become connected to the Internet. All classrooms now have access to technology in some fashion; however, access should not be an end in itself. It should be the beginning.
- Technology can be used in many ways in today’s classroom. It can be used to conduct research on the World Wide Web and provide access to seemingly unlimited resources.
- Technology can be used to analyze the results of experiments, inputting data into a spreadsheet and graphing the results. It provides the opportunity to communicate with peers and experts around the world through e-mail and video conferencing.
- Technology also makes it possible for students to demonstrate their understanding in ways other than traditional written tests and reports.
When referring to the use of technology in schools, it’s important to distinguish between two major functions.
▼ Information Technology is technology that deals with the management of information not directly related to instruction. This technology can be used for student records, assessment data, scheduling, payroll and finance, etc.
▼ Instructional Technology (sometimes referred to as “educational technology”) is technology used to support teaching and learning. Keeping in mind that technology is one of many tools that teachers have at their disposal, it is important to remember that instructional technology should add to instruction, not replace it.
Instructional technology should also enhance and extend learning. It is necessary for teachers to ask themselves, “Will the use of technology make this lesson better? Will it facilitate student understanding? Will students’ capacity to demonstrate their understanding increase because of it?” Asking these questions will help determine when using instructional technology is appropriate, and when it is not.