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2.4: What are the educational milestones of the 21st century?

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    by: Jim Eason

    Teaching Technology: An Introduction

    Modern technology is advancing at a blistering pace. New innovations are available to the public so quickly that tech gadgets are obsolete within a year. Today’s society is practically run by computers and other technologies. It is very important that we, as educators, prepare students for the real life challenges that lie ahead for them upon graduating high school and even university. New collaborative learning environments must also be incorporated to help them achieve success. Nearly every job on the planet requires technological knowledge. “To be able to compete for these positions, workers must have viable technology skills, and the educational system must prepare students for this work” (Thomas, 2007, p. 4). We can't expect students to learn these skills on their own. Educators must instill proper techniques at early ages to make sure they are ready for the workforce.

    The Educator’s Role


    Teacher education programs in the United States are trying to equip tomorrow's teachers with the technology skills needed to impact learning in the classroom. Learning the skills is not enough - teachers must learn how to integrate these skills in the classroom (Graham, Culatta, & Pratt, 2004, p. 127).

    Modern teaching is much different from the methods used in years past. We must adapt our teaching to the way students learn. As students learn about computers at younger and younger ages, it is important that the educator is competent enough to teach to their level of learning. “Teacher education programs in the United States are trying to equip tomorrow’s teachers with the technology skills needed to impact learning in the classroom” (Graham, Culatta, & Pratt, 2004, p. 127). This article contends further that learning the skills is not enough- teachers must learn how to integrate these skills in the classroom (Graham et al., p. 127). This article is emphasizing that it is our job to learn this technology, and in turn, relay this knowledge to the student.

    Every school has some form of technology available for teacher use. These range anywhere from an overhead and a VCR to network connected classrooms with Smart Board technology. There are many strategies to implement technology. Students use the Internet to do research or to expand learning of certain topics. This technology “allows students to have more control over their own learning, to think analytically and critically and to work collaboratively” (Kosakowski, 1998).

    Repetition is also an imperative use of this technology. Lessons can be delivered using a variety of sources. Teachers can present material, and then follow up with online games and quizzes. Regular and special education classes benefit from this type of learning. Students usually learn more, and more rapidly (Kosakowski, 1998).

    Cooperative Learning

    Cooperative learning is another method of teaching considered vital to today’s educational environment. Students can be put into small groups to complete certain tasks. “Cooperative learning is beneficial because knowledge is exchanged and converges through social interaction” (Weinberger, Stegmann, & Fischer, 2007, p. 416). When the grade of an entire project depends on the group as a whole, students are encouraged to share opinions and knowledge. This offers a less competitive learning environment. Weaker students or those that are less apt to share ideas openly or take part in classroom discussions are encouraged to participate. This helps build self confidence in those students. Computers are a tool that teachers can use to create their cooperative learning classroom. “Students have shown overall positive effects of learning with computer based technology on student achievement, attitudes towards learning, and self concept as compared to traditional instruction (Lou, 2001, p. 452).

    Learning with Technology

    It is important to note that there is a difference between learning from technology and learning with technology. Learning from technology is simply looking at a machine – whether it is a computer or an overhead projector – and gaining knowledge. Learning with technology puts the problem solving skills in the students’ hands. The technology gives them the resources they need to analyze material and draw their own conclusions. This gives them the opportunity to expand on the given lesson. This is vital to life after school. It gives them the chance to solve real world problems by “exploring, analyzing, and interpreting information” (Lou, p. 453). This doesn’t suggest that learning from technology should be avoided. Using computers for information is akin to having an expert in the classroom other than the teacher. Other benefits are “decreased instruction time, and an increase in the equity of access to quality instruction” (Lou, p. 453). This type of environment will give the teacher one on one time with the weaker students, which will keep them from falling behind in the curriculum.

    Teacher Perspecitves on Technology

    Teachers generally view technology as advantage, but there are problems associated with the desire to use technology. One such problem is availability. Many school systems have limited resources and only purchase a limited supply of technological tools. Often there are several teachers wanting to use the same tools at the same time. Another thought teachers state is that it affects their planning time. Teachers with more experience with technology themselves believe that the lesson planning time is shorter, while those with less experience with the use of technology believe it takes longer to prepare a lesson when incorporating technology. Teachers also express that students are more engaged when forms of technology is used and they gain a greater understanding of the material. The students learn the given material faster. When students have the opportunity to learn from technology, they tend to grasp the content quicker and the teacher is able to cover more material in a shorter amount of time. Technology aids in the reinforcement of content with extra practice with more "drill, practice and hands-on learning (Oncu, Delialioglu, Brown, 2008).

    A (maybe not so) Fictional Look into the Future

    In this section let's throw the research aside and see where all this technology can take us. We already have podcasts of class lectures. How far off will it be before this technology goes into secondary and even middle schools. I'll explain: Some university students can get a degree online - never stepping into a classroom. What about homeschool students? More and more parents are taking their children out of public and private schools and opting to teach their children themselves. What about the mothers that would like the opportunity to homeschool, but lack the knowledge or education to do it themselves? This is where podcasts come in! Parents can download lessons that their child would normally be getting at school. They can follow along with the teacher and make sure their child keeps up with the workload. He or she can take the tests at home and then the parent can submit his or her work for grading. Video conferencing is prevalent in business. It would be a great start if a student can experience this first hand in middle school. He can because, a new program could be implemented so that children from foreign countries can now learn from American schools via a video conference inside a middle school classroom. Students can be put into cooperative learning groups with a student from Russia, one from Kenya, and one in Brazil. They can break down language barriers and even learn multiple languages from communicating across the globe. Simple things like getting homework assignments from your teacher from a text message are not far off in the future if it's not here already. We already live in a global work environment. Is global education far behind? This last question will leave people debating for years to come.


    It is imperative, as modern day educators, to adapt teaching styles to the many ways students learn. The days of just standing in front of the class to deliver material are now gone. This practice is no longer adequate. Ever changing technology has given students renewed motivation in the classroom to fill their minds with information. Teachers must also be open to learning. Most students learn early on how to use technology devices. They have access to an unlimited amount of information on the Internet. It is the responsibility of adults, especially teachers, to guide them and help them decipher what information is accurate and pertinent to their studies. Teachers must have the knowledge to be their guide in these endeavors. Students, teachers, parents, administrators, and even state and local governments must work collaboratively to ensure students are getting the quality education they deserve; an education that will prepare them for the world outside of school grounds.


    Graham, C., Culatta, R., and Pratt, M.,(2004). Redesigning the Teacher Education Technology Course to Emphasize Integration. Computers in Schools, 21(1-2),127-148.

    Kosakowski, J.,(1998).The Benefits of Information Technology Syracuse, NY: ERIC.

    Lou, Y.(2001). Small Group and Individual Learning with Technology: A Meta-Analysis. Review of Educational Research, 71(3),449-521.

    Thomas, D.,(2007). Teaching Technology in Low Socio-economic Areas. The Technology Teacher, 67(3), 4-8.

    Weinberger, A., Stegmann, K., and Fischer, F.,(2007). Knowledge Convergence in Collaborative Learning: Concepts and Assessment. Learning in Instruction, 17(4), 416-426.

    No Child Left Behind Act, retrieved from and

    Oncu, S., Delialioglu, O., Brown, C. "Critical Components for Technology Integration: How do Instructors Make Decisions?". Italic textThe Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, no1 19-46, 2008.