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What is Technology Integration in Education?

5 Min Read
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In Ms. Hart’s classroom, there are two dozen students working in small groups on their latest project: making a shoebox glide through the air.

Three students are searching for design principles on the web. Another group interacts with a drawing on the SMART Board—they touch the white surface, rotate the object to view it from different angles, and give each other fist bumps to celebrate their discovery. Across the room, a couple of students wait for the printer to stop. Their reproduced “airplane skins” are almost ready to be applied to their aircraft. At the end of the project, the groups will record their shoebox flights. Then they’ll upload the recordings to the class webpage, along with a written analysis of their findings.

Ms. Hart’s students incorporated mathematic and scientific principles to design, construct, and test their creations. As they worked, they researched, evaluated, applied, and justified their decisions. The project would not have been so successful if it weren’t for technology integration in the classroom.

According to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), classes like the one described above allow instructors to “rethink education and create innovative learning environments.”

What Is the Meaning of Technology Integration in Education?

The definition of technology integration in education is the well-coordinated use of digital devices and cloud computing as tools for problem-solving, deeper learning, and understanding. Technology facilitates access to curriculum but is not the curriculum itself. Teachers guide their students in using technology as a tool for accessing and understanding educational content.

The Success Behind Technology Integration in Education

There are two keys to successfully integrating technology in the classroom. The first lies in understanding the role of technology in the classroom. Keeping students—not the technology—at the center of instruction is the second.

Authentic and meaningful technology integration is a relationship between the teacher, the student, and the curriculum. Technology is the vehicle that makes it happen.

In Ms. Hart’s classroom, students used technology as a medium for completing their assignment. Their focus remained on the learning objectives and project goals—the tech was just a tool. Learning how to use the available technology also supplemented their learning experience and helped them work more efficiently.

Digital automation and machinery alone will never make school a better place. The integration of technology in education doesn’t shift the focus from instruction. Instead, it enhances an existing educational program by serving as a learning device.

Advantages of Integrating Technology in the Classroom

There are many benefits of integrating technology in the classroom. In the classroom, students with access to technology have useful tools that assist with active learning and problem-solving. Integrating educational technology into teaching encourages engagement and exploration in a way that differs from traditional textbooks. Classroom lessons are less about the technology itself and more about deep learning. Students use technology to achieve the task at hand: understanding content.

Adaptive technology, for example, meets students where they are in the learning continuum by assessing their strengths and weaknesses. Then, the programs identify appropriate learning objectives and establish learning pathways for each student. as learners engage with this technology, certain algorithms can collect data about student achievement for teachers to analyze. This data allows them to better plan future lessons and attend to their students’ needs.

While instructional software allows students to access their classwork anytime. Students may extend their learning by working on programs outside of class: before school, during lunch time, or outside of school if they have access to the apps from their own devices.

Additionally, software and digital voice assistants provide alternative, reliable sources of information or fact-checking. These programs patiently repeat directions and lessons, customizing instruction through differentiation.

Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching Improves Learning

Computers and internet access have become staples of many modern classrooms. The diverse technology available in today’s classrooms has transcended the personal computer, taking alternative forms such as:

  • Artificial reality/virtual reality
  • Digital smart boards
  • Intelligent gamification
  • Digital voice assistants/teaching robots
  • Interactive displays

But these tools alone are not enough to integrate technology into the classroom. How will the learners use the technology to create something new, like a blog, a video, or yes, even a shoebox that flies?

School administrators are trained to observe how students interact with technology in the classroom. Many principals watch classroom activities closely to ensure that every student in class is using the provided devices and instructional software. They examine reports indicating how much time students have spent using software or devices.

Simply logging screen time doesn’t tell the full picture of whether students are benefiting from technology. That’s why it’s important to assess the various ways in which students interact with the available digital tools. It’s critical to note how skillfully the learners use technology and for what reasons. 

Integrating Technology in the Classroom Begins with Teachers

At the start of a new school year, there may be new advancements in edtech apps and solutions or schools may adopt new programs. To successfully integrate these programs into the curriculum, time should be provided for teachers to become familiarized with the technology. Ongoing support and professional development can also help teachers develop technological skills, such as:

  • Downloading and installing computer software.
  • Creating and using documents, spreadsheets, and presentation slide decks.
  • Developing an understanding of social media platforms and how/when to use them.
  • Incorporating educational software that supplements classroom instruction.
  • Collecting and analyzing student achievement data.
  • Using video conferencing tools.

The Integration of Technology in Education Is a Dynamic Process

Technology integration in education is more than the sum of hours spent on computer programs. It’s a dynamic process coordinated by skilled teachers and supported by school leaders.

Not all students intuitively know how to use technology for educational purposes, but they are eager learners who depend on their teachers to make that technology available to them. In turn, school administrators must assist teachers in understanding technology’s role in the classroom and learning how to integrate it. The effort requires not only professional development for teachers but also sufficient time for them to practice using technology in class.

Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that the intent behind integrating technology is to supplement existing resources and instructional content. Students are, and always will be, the central focus of education. So technology needs to be effectively and appropriately integrated so that students can thrive.

This article was adapted from a blog post initially developed by the education technology company Classcraft, which was acquired by HMH in 2023. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.


Find more lesson plans and classroom resources on Shaped.