Curriculum as Influenced by Society and Technology
Curriculum as Influenced by Society and Technology
The current trend of technology in the classroom can be traced back to the early1900s when schools and museums, as a complement to verbal instruction, began to use visuals aids including drawings, paintings, and slides. In the 1920s, as film became widely used, The National Academy of Visual Instruction was formed to help distinguish between films that were for entertainment or educational value. As technology progressed and the television was introduced, the educational system began to use instructional television. During the 1970s and 1980s the biggest influence in the classroom, to date, came in the form of computers.
As the 1990s progressed, computers and multimedia equipment continued to become more affordable and they began to be used across the world. The trend of technology in the classroom currently consists of multiple categories including Multimedia, Internet and Networking, Computer-assisted instruction (CAI), Computer-managed instruction (CMI), and teacher training. As the current trend of technology in the classroom continues to be centered on the inclusion of computers and other mediums, it only awaits to incorporate the next big step in technology.
The Ever-changing Technology Trend The abacus, the slate, the red pad of paper, it is amazing to view the ever-changing technology in education today. As a society, not only has our language and communication developed, but the way that language and communication are expressed has changed drastically. In Mathematics an abacus was used to solve problems, now a student can program a graphing calculator to solve problems for them. Some schools allow children to bring laptops into class with them, in other schools it is mandatory that all students have a laptop to bring to school.
From having no computers in the classroom to having dozens of computers in the classroom has been an evolution of the educational system. Technology in the educational system consists of many mediums, and the history to the current educational system is quite fascinating. What remains to be seen is how the ever-changing, ever-evolving technology will impact the schools today, and how technology will affect our schools in the future. The view of a teacher as the possessor and transferor of information is shifting to a new paradigm in which the teacher is now a facilitator or a coach.
These new teachers provide appropriate learning environments that engage students in collaborative activities that require communications and access to information that only technology can provide. Technology engages students, and as a result they spend more quality time on basic learning tasks than students who use a more traditional approach. Students who have the opportunity to use technology to acquire and organize information show a higher level of comprehension and a greater likelihood of using what they learn later in their lives (Impact, 2005).
The integration of technology into the curriculum has been shown to decrease absenteeism, lower dropout rates, and motivate more students to continue on to college. This current trend of technology in the classroom consists of multiple categories including multimedia, Internet and networking, computer-assisted instruction (CAI), computer-managed instruction (CMI), and teacher training: Multimedia Interactive multimedia combines text, graphics, sound, animation, and video into a single learning environment. The hardware of multimedia can include: Macintosh computers, audio digitizers, CD ROM players, graphic scanners, and videodisc players.
Since information is presented in visual and verbal modalities, individual learning styles of students are easily accommodated. It is not only a presentation tool for the teacher, becoming the basis for classroom lectures, discussions, and simulations, but it is also a reporting and reference tool for students in preparing class assignments. Example of use: There is an ongoing multimedia project that is part of the seventh grade science curriculum at the Baker Demonstration School at National-Louis University. Students choose a mammal to study at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL.
They then spend several sessions at the zoo observing this mammal’s physical characteristics, behavior, locomotion, and its zoo habitat. These observations become the raw data for constructing a multimedia presentation about their mammal. Internet and Networking There is a clear direction towards using the Internet to open education to students everywhere. The use of the Internet ranges from making course materials available on-line, to using the Internet as the communication tool for the course. With the vast capabilities of the Internet, computers are being networked for communication, research, and remote collaboration.
Networks can help to break down communication barriers and connect students and teachers with the outside world. Access to a computer, a modem, and phone lines frees students and teachers from the physical limits and time constraints of the school environment. Networking also allows them to send electronic mail, participate in computer conferencing, and access information from remote sources. Example of use: Students studying the solar system can send questions directly to NASA scientists. Classes from different parts of the world could read the same book and share ideas and conclusions throughout the reading of the book.
Another idea is for one class to write cliff hangers and have the other class finish the stories. In some cases, classes have done parallel science experiments or conducted surveys and then compared results with the other class. Computer-assisted instruction (CAI) and Computer-managed instruction (CMI) (CMI) is the use of the computer to maintain records associated with student performance. This usually includes, but is not limited to, the results of particular Computer-Aided Instruction (CAI) packages.
As the student completes each lesson, the computer stores the progress, scores, records the results of all tests or quizzes completed, and it provides progress reports to the teacher. These reports, either individual or class-wide, may be used to rapidly identify unsatisfactory progress or weak areas (Harrison 1983). Example of use: An individualized curriculum could be written for each student allowing the teacher to more effectively utilize the limited class time available. These tools can help remediate students lacking in certain skills and allow students access to information presented in multimedia formats.
Teacher Training Tremendous increase in technology-related in-service teacher training is taking place. Teachers are learning how to use electronic grade books and other teacher utilities to create puzzles, tests and quizzes, and other materials in order to assist them. Examples of training: After-school workshops conducted by the computer enrichment instructor and/or volunteers is one form of teacher training available, another is one-on-one tutoring carried out by volunteers or a computer enrichment instructor.
Technology conferences attended by selected members of the faculty and teacher-to-teacher instruction utilizing those faculties with advanced technology skills also provides valuable teacher training. In addition to the technologies mentioned, the Education Coalition (TEC) considers the merger of computing, television, printing, and telecommunications as the most significant trend in education and technology. “Bringing them together results in the whole having greater impact than each individual part… ” (Lane & Portway, ND).
Technology is abundant in the classroom today in many forms such as computers, the internet, DVDs, CD-ROMs, etc. However, technology in the classroom “can be traced back to the early 1900s, when schools and museums began to include visuals such as drawings, paintings, slides, films, and models as a complement to verbal instruction” (Summary of Major Events in the Field, 2005). In the early1900s, still and video cameras were considered to be the technology of the future, the likes of which had never been seen before.
It was hard to imagine, at this time in history, that they would be used on a daily basis in the home, let alone in the schools. Contrary to popular belief, the history of technology within education goes back a lot further than simply the introduction of computers and televisions into the classroom in the 1980s and 1990s. Throughout history, many people have had high hopes of how technology would affect education in the future. Thomas Edison said, “books will soon be obsolete in the schools. Scholars will soon be instructed through the eye. It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture.
Our school system will be completely changed in ten years”(Major Trends of the Decade, 2005). In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Thomas Edison was working on perfecting his invention, a kinetophone, which synchronized sound on a phonograph cylinder with pictures on a screen (Life of Thomas A. Edison, 2005). Edison dreamed that films would one day revolutionize education. “In 1911, he released a series of historical films about the American Revolution, becoming one of the first producers of films for classroom use” (Major Trends of the Decade, 2005).
While his invention did not exactly revolutionize education, the modern version of inventions like the kinetophone is used on a regular basis in the classroom via television, video, and DVD. In the 1920s, film was seen as a progressive style of teaching, and was used in only a few select classrooms across America. To aid in the process of incorporating film into education, The National Academy of Visual Instruction was formed in order to help distinguish between films that were for entertainment and films that had educational value (Major Trends of the Decade, 2005).
During this time, there was also an attempt to use radio broadcasts in the classroom; however, this trend died out within 15 years as there were often technical problems that could make teaching unpredictable. As film began to be used more often in classrooms across the world, the United States government had to prepare teachers for the advancement of technology in order to keep up with other advancing countries throughout the world. This was hard to do as many teachers worried about the fire hazards from film projectors and also feared that technology would one day replace them and they would no longer have jobs (Major Trends of the Decade).
Classrooms would continue to experiment with this new technology for years to come, in hopes of keeping up with the changing times. In the 1950s and 1960s, the demand for instructional television reached its height due to a shortage of teachers and overcrowded classrooms. In 1959, the Midwest Program of Airborne Television Instruction (MPATI) was created and 34 courses were televised to 2,000 elementary and secondary schools in six states (Saettler, 1990).
Students were able to watch and learn from their classrooms, and many schools that were unable to participate in the program tried to acquire it by borrowing from other schools across the nation. It was a big step forward for the educational system and later in 1990, Christopher Whittle created a more advanced version of this known as Channel One, a show that aired in almost 12,000 public and private middle and high schools nationwide, while reaching 7. 7 million students (Borja, 2005).
Studies done on MPATI showed that teachers disliked the program and found it interrupted their classes, so it lost much of its attraction to schools. While teachers did come to understand the importance of bringing the world into their classroom, the same situation evolved later with the classroom interruptions and Channel One in the 1990s and it has steadily declined in its use in classrooms. The decade of 1960 saw the introduction of computers into the educational setting, although it was not in many schools as the costs to supply them was too great for most school systems.
The development of computers would continue to grow in the ‘70s and ‘80s, when microcomputers became available; more convenient for schools and somewhat more affordable. These decades saw rapid advancement in the way of computers, television, and video recorders, making it hard for schools to keep up with the latest equipment. As the 1990s progressed, computers and multimedia equipment continued to become more affordable and were widely used in many classrooms spanning the globe.
While in the past students were content and well supplied by having a set of crayons, pens, pencils, books, and a chalkboard, technology has quickly advanced over the years to a point in which no classroom or student is complete without sophisticated sets of computers, DVDs, scanners, and the Internet. Technology has had a great impact on education in recent years. The trend to modernize schools and increase the amount of technology in the classroom has become apparent with the passing of new educational legislation and an increase of electronic devices in classrooms.
Studies by major universities have also been undertaken to look at the use of computers and other items in learning and the effect that they have on students. The impact of technology on schools has been both positive and negative. While educators embrace the idea and the opportunities that new technology provides students, the trend has caused an increase in costs for an already under-funded system. Keeping up with such advances will be increasingly more expensive as time goes by. This cost is worth paying; however, as the trend in the workplace has also been moving toward technology as well.
Studies have been undertaken by universities and researchers to learn the impact and necessity of technology in schools. A research project at the University of Georgia focused not only on the United States, but on many other English speaking countries as well, including Australia, Canada, and Great Britain. This study focused on the incorporation of media and technology in schools and the impact to which it has had on students and learning. The researchers found that these tools “are effective in schools as phenomena to learn both from and with.
” (Reeves, 1998, The Impact of Media and Technology in Schools) The results of this effort point towards the importance of technology in school, and make an argument for its continued and increased use. Legislators, voters, and school officials have also realized the benefits of giving students an education involving technology. In recent years, the number of computers and other devices in schools has increased drastically. According to a study done by the California Department of Education in 2004, there were 1,181,649 computers in classrooms across the state.
At that time, this was approximately 1 computer to every 5. 3 students. (California Department of Education, 2004) The number of computers in classrooms is expected to increase yearly, although the data has not yet been released for 2005. As these electronics do not come to schools cheaply, unless through donation, the State of California, as well as other states across the Union, have passed legislation to assist schools in purchasing the items. An example of this is California’s SB 1863, which was a bill signed into law by Governor Davis in 2002.
This act grants non-profit organizations, such as public schools and hospitals, the ability to purchase computers and telecommunications systems at a discounted price (Bowen, 2002, SB1863). With legislation such as this in place, it is easier for schools to afford the necessary items they need to keep up with changing technology. As computers and other items are introduced into classrooms across the nation, teachers are being forced to learn how to use the technology and software in order to incorporate it into their lessons. For some, learning to do this can be difficult, while for others it may be simple.
The amount of time it takes to learn the information and skills needed cuts into personal lives, taking away from family events and other activities. These hours are often unpaid, and are done from the teacher’s own desire to better instruct students for the future. Educating oneself to use computers and other devices is also expensive. Computers and their components are quite costly. Many teachers have to afford to buy the computers themselves. Teacher salaries are not exceptionally high, and purchasing such items is not always feasible. According to the American Federation of Teachers:
The average teacher salary in the 2003-04 school year was $46,597, a 2. 2 percent increase from the year before. This falls short of the rate of inflation for 2004, this was 2. 7 percent. When adjusted for inflation, the 2003-04 salary actually drops 0. 4 percent from 2002-03. (American Federation of Teachers, 2005, Teacher Salaries Lag Behind Inflation) Teachers are also placed in another predicament as workplace trends are requiring computer and technology skills be incorporated into everyday business. A teacher’s job is to prepare their students for the future.
In order to accomplish this goal, educators must be able to instruct their pupils in the areas of technology. To do this, teachers must be educated themselves, and in such a fashion that the teachers are forced to purchase nearly unaffordable items out of their own salaries. Including technology into the classrooms is important. Teaching students to use these items is beneficial to them and their futures. However, getting the tools to all students is difficult as funding is limited. Underprivileged schools tend to be less likely to have the computers that they need as funding is simply not available for them.
This contributes to the problem of the technological divide, in which students from lower income areas do not have the equipment or skills to keep up with students in better neighborhoods and situations. In 1998, the incorporation of technology in schools cost roughly 16 billion dollars (Reeves, 1998, The Impact of Media and Technology in Schools). This money comes mostly from federal funding, but according to the study at the University of Georgia, it will not be enough to keep up with future needs. Technology in the schools is important.
The inclusion of computers and other media in education of students will have a drastic impact on their future. These items are expensive but needed. Legislators are passing actions that will allow for funding to be available to purchase these items and place them into classrooms. In order for teachers to keep up with advancements in education, they have to learn to use the technology themselves. This takes their time away for other activities which they participate in and it can be costly in itself. The monetary cost of the inclusion of this trend in education is the biggest impact to which the system faces.
Affording to pay for such material is difficult, as funds are hard to obtain. So, where will classrooms be in 10 years, 20 years? The question becomes where will teachers be? There are many proponents for online and virtual classrooms where a school room is not required, but there are many who object to this because school is not only where a child goes to learn, but it is also where a child goes in order to learn how to function in society. Currently in California, a new program has been implemented into high schools, it is the virtual enterprise, which gives students the opportunity to learn about business.
However “there are no textbooks in the virtual enterprise (VE) programs. The classrooms don’t have the average-looking furniture; the furniture generally consists of cubicles, office desks, computers, fax machines and telephones. The teacher is called the coordinator, and the daily instruction is conducted with direct input from appoint company officers” (Tekaat-Davey, 2006). This form of environment is giving children a look into a more corporate environment, and for those students interested in a corporate world it is a very interesting form of education, and it is giving students a heads-up into how the “real-world” functions.
Often, it takes a lengthy period of time for schools to implement new technologies because of the money constraints, however “a unique component of VE is the fact that it is very cost effective for the respective sites” (Tekaat-Davey, 2006). Many businesses donate the computers and other supplies that are needed in order to make the virtual enterprise environment work. This is an innovative approach that is giving the teacher a different role, but it may take on force because it is so much more cost effective. It seems that the goal of the future is to show children how to integrate technology into their lives effectively.
Another aspect of technology is how small it makes the world, everything is so much closer through computers now, and students are going to be taught how best to interact and learn about different cultures, but schools in the United States are also going to need to compete more thoroughly with technologies in schools worldwide. Currently, 90 percent of schools have Internet connectivity and more than 33 percent of teachers have Internet access in their classrooms (Gahala, 2001). So yes, technology availability is there, but how to use it effectively is going to be the constant battle between teachers and technology experts.
This country has developed in technology gradually over the years, even though sometimes it seems like it has been overnight. The growth of technology has been an ever-adapting process, and it is constantly changing. “Technology is not transformative on its own. Evidence indicates that when used effectively, ‘technology applications can support higher-order thinking by engaging students in authentic, complex tasks within collaborative learning contexts’ (Means, Blando, Olson, Middleton, Morocco, Remz, & Zorfass, 1993)” (Gahala, 2001).
But, will technology change the role of a teacher is what concerns many teachers today, and the answer is possibly. “As students become more self-directed, teachers who are not accustomed to acting as facilitators or coaches may not understand how technology can be used as part of activities that are not teacher-directed. This situation may be an excellent opportunity for the teacher not only to learn from the student but also to model being an information seeker, lifelong learner, and risk taker” (Gahala, 2001).
So, even though the process of education may change, the traditional principles still hold, teachers are there to be a guide and a facilitator for education and knowledge. It is a teacher’s responsibility to incorporate current technologies into the history of teaching in order to give students the best possible education they can receive. Technology use impacting student grades All four research questions considered how technology use (low/high) as defined by overall use, teacher use and student use in the classroom effected at-risk students’ classroom grades.
Inferential statistics showed no significant affect on at-risk student grades for any of the independent variables—teacher use, student use or overall technology use. For all the independent variables of teacher use, student use and overall technology use, the 1st quarter grades are higher for high technology using teachers. But that trend did not continue into second quarter for any of the independent variables. Since low GPA is a criterion for being identified at-risk at the studied school, it is logical that these students had low grades.
However, some of these students had no passing grades, which is equivalent to a GPA of zero. The grade point average mean for the 66 at-risk students is 1. 52 at the end of the school year 2000–2001. Any grade mean above a zero is an improvement for some of the identified at-risk students. A possible explanation for this decline in grades is a greater use of technology in the 1st quarter. The researcher informally observed that students are immersed in technology in many of the classes: Power Point slide shows, travel brochures, postcards and video interviews are being created for presentations.
During the 2nd quarter the classrooms slowly returned to a more traditional style. Some teachers, in informal discussions with the researcher, said they are using drill and practice, word processing for writing, and Internet for research projects. Without the use of technology infused in the classroom teachers would never know that with more constructivist methods students could achieve at higher levels. From research on the ACOT classrooms, students use technology as a tool to collect, organize, and analyze data; to enhance presentations; to conduct simulations and to solve complex problems.
One of the changes seen over this 10-year study is the change in the lower-achieving students; the ones teachers could not reach with the teacher-centered learning. These students began to respond positively given the alternate ways of expressing their knowledge, which not only raised their self-esteem but their status with the teachers and their peers. The at-risk students are likely to show improvement in academic achievement when technology is used in the classroom appropriately.
The conditions needed for appropriate use of technology to improve education are: first, the successful use of technology requires teachers to face their beliefs about learning and the efficacy of different instructional activities. Second, teachers view technology as one possible tool that must be used in the curriculum and instruction framework with meaning. Third, teachers need to become risk takers, experiment with technology, help and share with peers. Fourth, technology can be a catalyst for change, but the process of integrating technology is a long-term challenge for the teachers.
In closing on student grades and technology, from the ten-year study conducted by ACOT comes this statement: “teachers also discovered that students who did not do well in a typical setting frequently excelled when working with technology. Low achievers had a chance to experience success and began concentrating and applying themselves to their projects” (p. 95). This study supports the findings in the present study indicating that the technology should be incorporated into the curriculum in meaningful, student-centered methods. Conclusion
The impact of technology in schools is somewhere between it’s the only way to make a positive change in schools to it’s a new fad. They see technology as a strong tool for positive change but it must be presented in the right ways. Steps must be taken for technology to make a difference. Leaders of the schools must include everyone at the beginning of the plan, not after technology arrives. Leadership in the school system must plan for technology. Hire a full time technology director, involve the school in the changes, and provide the services that are needed for technology to succeed in the schools.
Teachers must change the way they teach. Classrooms must take on the student-centered learning methods. Teachers need to become facilitators. Students need to be allowed to use technology as a tool, which will enable them to collect, analyze, and create major projects. When schools are prepared for technology, the entire school benefits. The quality of the time for technology to be integrated into the curriculum is the key to student learning, not the quantity of time with technology. Technology is not the entire solution for keeping at-risk students in the classroom, but it is a start in the right direction.
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