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4.1: What are the effects of educational reform in the classroom?

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    By Sharon Manana


    Now more than ever, students have become progressively more infused with the use of technological advances both in the home and at school. In fact, a study by the Kaiser Foundation found that the typical 8-18 year-old lives in a home with 3.6 CD or tape players, 3.5 TVs, 3.3 radios, 2.9 VCRs/DVD players, 2.1 video game consoles, and 1.5 computers (Rideout, Roberts, & Ulla, 2005). As teachers, we can integrate technology in our curriculums and utilize these devices as a source for learning. Podcasting is commonly used as one such medium since educators use them to convey complex information for material that would be less interesting if it appeared in print (Villano, 2008, p. 2). With each passing day, teachers are changing their teaching methods as technology advances beyond the use of chalk and into the era of Power points. This benefits the students because technology integration has popularized itself as an innovative way to learn while keeping the students actively engaged. Furthermore, student interaction and discussion groups are other non-traditional approaches to teaching. The following sections will cover the various ways of teaching in the classroom with the help of technology integration, student interaction, and discussion groups.


    The Kaiser Foundation also conducted several studies about how much media the majority of U.S. teenagers use. The results were as follows:

    The Youth and Media Statistics
    Uses the Internet 87%
    Hours a day playing video games 6.5
    Uses the Internet at school 78%
    Downloads music from the Internet 64%
    Uses Instant Messaging 66%
    Have a cell phone 39%
    Have created a personal Web Site or Web Page 32%
    Have an MP3 player 18%
    Have a hand held device that connects to the Internet 13%

    (Rideout, Roberts, & Ulla, 2005).

    These are not surprising results considering the average student listens to their iPod while text messaging, navigating the Internet, watching television, and doing homework(Rideout, Roberts, & Ulla, 2005). Although technology used in this sense has been characterized as distractions by some, it can also be a means for us as teachers to stay connected with our students, while helping them learn.

    Out with the Chalk, In with the... Technology?

    For many years, teachers have had rows of students, chalkboards, and red apples on their nicely organized desks. Times have changed and instead of the student asking the teacher where Samoa is located, the student can easily navigate the Internet to find its geographical setting, governmental structure, history, and population capacity. Some teachers are adamant about not changing the way they teach primarily because students are relying more on technology and less on teachers (Teacher, 2005). For this reason, manufacturers like Apple and Microsoft are working with educators to make technology advantageous for everyone. Power points, iPods, and podcasts are some of the technological aids teachers use to help their students learn (Hitlin, Lenhart, & Madden, 2005). Teachers are slowly straying away from primitive methods of teaching and have turned to alternative techniques. For example, instead of passing out handouts in classrooms, teachers save paper by posting the handouts on Blackboard, even making it accessible for the students who missed class. Even teachers who are not accustomed to using Blackboard as a teaching tool, have agreed that it is convenient (Teacher, 2005). As the world vastly advances in the Digital Age, it is our job as teachers to keep up with the times by erasing the chalk marks and using the laser pointers.

    The "T" Word


    "It's much more important to give teachers a

    sense of the range of possible uses of technology and where any given technology activity may lie in

    that continuum" (Bledsoe, 2008).

    Technology integration in schools has become a common phenomenon. It means, "Using computers effectively and efficiently in the general content areas to allow students to learn how to apply computer skills in meaningful ways."(Holland, 2005). Teachers are now using iPods for testing, podcasts for lectures, and Text Messaging for quizzes (Carstairs, M., 2007). A couple of years ago, these devices would be the reason teachers said, "Power Down," as students walked into classrooms but as of late, those two words are losing their significance. Research indicates that technology integration is a ground-breaking and exciting way to teach especially since students have become increasingly involved in their learning process(Holland, 2005). Also, technology integration has made learning a global enterprise for both counterparts, the student and teacher. A student in Japan can communicate with their teacher in Hawaii via Instant Messaging, a webcam, or even a cell phone. This is one of the remarkable ways students and teachers can stay connected. Technology integration has molded teaching into a simplified process and made learning an experience for academic success. Despite the praise it receives from both the student and the teacher, technology integration has confounded with the recipients of the Digital Age(The Children's Partnership, 2000).

    The Downside to Technology

    Unlike students, adapting to technology is not an innate trait for most teachers. In fact, some teachers are required to take courses to familiarize themselves with technological terms, the use of computers—software and hardware, the World Wide Web, Microsoft Word, Excel, Power point, etc. (Holland, 2005). The Digital Divide doesn't just apply to low-income households, foreign-born people, and the under-educated; it also encompasses the wide gap between student and teacher (The Children's Partnership, 2000). Because of this partition, many teachers have become oblivious to the ways in which students "beat the system." A prime example of this stupor is cheating. It has always been education's malignancy and every teacher's worst nightmare. For centuries, students have come up with multiple ways to double-cross the educational system and the use of technology has made cheating even easier. Rebecca Boone wrote a compelling article about one of the ways in which students use technology to cheat; iPods. Teachers who confiscated iPods have found answers to tests embedded in song lyrics, while others were recorded as part of the songs. The growing number of students' cheating caused some schools to ban the devices first in classrooms, then on school grounds (Boone,2007). "With ESL English, some astute students use cell phones for 'dictionaries', and the situation does occur when a student says 'dictionary' when seen texting" (Carstairs, 2007). In incidents like this, the student texts to get the answer to a question and since the teacher is unaware of how manipulative some technology is, they wont know that the student is cheating. It is equally imperative for teachers as well as students to familiarize themselves with technologies' capabilities so that any exploitation in the educational system can straightforwardly be avoided.

    Remain Mundane Or Divert to the Digital Age?

    Incorporating technology in one's curriculum is not mandatory for teachers but it is unquestionably beneficial for students. It is our job as teachers to prepare students for the future and real life experiences. Technology is an immense part for both aspects and for us to shun away from the idea is fundamentally unwise. Some teachers find technology undeniably difficult to use and that is understandable (Teacher, 2005). It is not by any means an easy task to grasp every part of technology but even the diminutive steps count toward a greater feat. Most teachers today have practiced the use of Power point in lectures as opposed to having their backs to the classroom as they fervently write on the chalkboard (Holland, 2005). For the most part, technology can make teaching pleasurable for both the student and the teacher but it is up to the teacher to make the first move; they can remain mundane in their teaching tactics or divert to the digital age. Ultimately, the goal is to teach the student in a way that is efficient, effective, and advantageous.

    Supplementary Ways to Teach

    The use of technology is certainly a great way to teach but other methods have proven to be just as superior. Research shows that student interaction and group discussions are other resourceful ways for students to learn (Picciano, 2002). This may be because of the peer-to-peer understanding students have with each other that they would not otherwise have with their teacher. Levels of competence, assessments, and difficulty are readily shared between students moreso than with their teachers. For this reason, when students learn from each other and discuss their findings, teachers are no longer confined to the traditional way of teaching but broaden the students' potential in terms of what they can contribute to the classrooms' learning experience (Hitlin, Lenhart, & Madden, 2005). In-person discussion boards or the ones found on encompass the notion of student interaction on a couple of levels. For one, they encourage students to talk amongst themselves and rarely involve the teacher's input. They also promote social skills required in most real-life situations thus preparing the student for life after school(Picciano, 2002).


    The amount of time students spend with the media and technology has grown immensely over the years (Rideout, Roberts, & Ulla, 2005). Teachers are no longer limited to one way of teaching their students and can simply incorporate the use of technology in their everyday learning. Also, student interaction and discussion groups are two different ways students can learn without necessarily following the traditional guidelines of what a typical classroom would look like; this refers to a teacher lecturing for a long period of time without any student input (Picciano, 2002). The use of all three teaching techniques make learning an efficient, effective, and advantageous way for students to learn. On the other hand, the use of technology in classrooms can be an arduous and time-consuming task but the benefits are well worth the efforts (Holland, 2005). Teachers are not required to use any alternative teaching methods in their current curriculums but students would appreciate new and creative ways to learn in order to be successful both in and out of school.


    Bledsoe, G. L.(2008). Technology Taxonomy. Retrieved February 5, 2008, from the Nationl Education Association Web Site:

    Boone, R. (2007). Schools Banning iPods to Beat Cheaters. Retrieved February 2, 2008, from Active English Web Site:

    Carstairs, M. (2007). Schools Banning iPods to Stop Cheating: Use Ipod Technology for Testing. Retrieved February 2, 2008, from Active English Web Site:

    Hitlin, P., Lenhart, A., & Madden, M.(2005). Teens and Technology: Youth are Leading the Transition to a Fully Wired and Mobile Nation. Retrieved February 1, 2008, from Pew Internet & American Life Project Web Site:

    Holland, J. (2005). When Teachers Don't Get It: Myths, Misconceptions, and other Taradiddle. Retrieved February 1, 2008, from the Tech Learning Web Site:

    Picciano, A. G. (2002). Beyond Student Perceptions: Issues of Interaction, Presence, and Performance in an Online Course. Retrieved February 5, 2008, from Hunter College of the City University of New York, JALN Volume 6, Issue 1 – July 2002 pp. 21–23.

    Rideout, V., Roberts, D. F., & Ulla, G. F. (2005). Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-olds. Retrieved February 1, 2008, from The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Web Site:

    Teacher, N. L. (2005) When Techies Don't Get It. Retrieved February 1, 2008, from the Blue Skunk Blog Web Site:

    The Children's Partnership. (2000). The Digital Divide's New Frontier. Retrieved February 5, 2008, from (pp. 1–11)Online Content for Low Income and Undeserved Americans, 1-11

    Villano, M. (2008). Building a Better Podcast. Retrieved February 1, 2008, from T.H.E. Journal Web Site: