It is undeniable that the integration of education and technology has a myriad of benefits. Technology has facilitated the learning process and broken down various barriers. The value of education technology has been amplified with the current Covid-19 crisis. The Covid-19 outbreak has affected countries differently. However, it is estimated that more than 1.2 billion children in 186 countries have been affected by school closure due to the pandemic. This article will outline some of the best practices in integrating educational technology in the classroom to enable students to get the best educational experience and make the best use of education technology.
What is Technology Integration?
We must make a distinction between technology integration and successful technology integration. There currently needs to be a paradigm shift from using technology to successfully using technology in the classroom. To better understand what successful technology integration looks like, we need to agree on its definition. In a broad sense, technology integration is “the intentional, curriculum-driven embedding of technology tools and skills into practical uses to enhance student learning.” Integration means the use of technology to meet any given educational goal.
What Are the Best Practices for Successful EdTech Implementation?
There is plenty of research that exists on the best practices for incorporating educational technology in classrooms. The research can be categorized into two sections, one that has to do with educators’ and administrators’ efforts. The other has to do with the stakeholders or students, the end-users, and how they can help make the integration of educational technology successful.
Make Sure Everyone is on Board
It is crucial to involve key administrators and teachers in the decision-making process, planning the use of programs and technology, and implementation planning. Teachers’ involvement can be through consultations, collaboration, encouragement, and, more importantly, strong communication. Teacher involvement from the onset will help ensure successful implementation.
Teachers should not be forced to use new or specific technology types in their classrooms. If they are not included from the onset of the process, they might feel the proposed technologies do not suit their instructional goals, learning outcomes, lessons, and assessments. Therefore, having teachers on board from the beginning is imperative and saves time and resources.
Educational leaders such as heads of departments, superintendents, and principals need to participate in the implementation and use of educational technology actively. Educational leaders can show their commitment through the active usage and training of teachers. Moreover, if the upper management is not invested, teachers will not be invested either.
We know that educators do not always have time to learn new technologies. However, having teachers learn about new technology, and its effective use is imperative in successfully integrating educational technology in the classroom. Teachers must be familiarized with various technological tools to feel comfortable using them and integrating them in their courses. Moreover, it is helpful to have online product training videos and materials accessible to teachers whenever needed and whenever their schedule permits.
Get Parents Involved
In today’s day and age, most students have access to technology and computers at home. Therefore, there should be continuity from school grounds to their homes. Moreover, parents should be informed of new technology software and tools used at school to stay involved in their child’s learning.
Make Learning Authentic
Students learn better when learning is situated in real-world experiences. Students need to see a connection between what they are in learning in the classroom and the real world that they inhabit. Technology can fill in the gap and help make connections between what students learn and the real world. For example, students learning about the environment and the planet can go on virtual field trips to aquariums and observe how the environment plays a key role in animals’ lives.
Seek Student Input
One of the major trends in education is student-centered design. Since students are one of the major stakeholders, their feedback can offer administrators and teachers some very important insights on the tools being used in classrooms. Greenwich Public Schools survey students, staff, and parents every two years to gather feedback on what is working and what needs improvement.
Implement Technology in Phases
A long-term plan is a good approach to technology integration because it eases budget strains. It also allows teachers to be familiarized, trained, and include technology in the curriculum.
Now is The Time to Innovate
Major world events often prompt and inspire innovation in various fields. One example is the rise of eCommerce post the SARS outbreak. We are still waiting to see whether the current educational arena changes due to Covid will continue after the pandemic. However, this pandemic has made the importance of disseminating knowledge across borders and societies quite clear. Since online learning has a huge role to play, we must explore its full potential.