Today’s students grew up with technology; it is a part of their everyday lives. Technology is revolutionizing how we think, work, and play. Many homes have computers and Internet connections. Technologies such as MP3 players, cell phones, and laptop computers have the ability to empower users in a whole new way—especially with user-created Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, and YouTube. The way we interact with the Web has changed from a pull-down model to an interactive, push model. Our students EXPECT technology to be used in the classroom and as a part of their learning experience.
More and more studies show that technology integration improves students’ learning processes and outcomes because students become actively engaged in the learning process. George Lucas’ Educational Foundation, Edutopia, the Center for Applied Research in Educational Technology (CARET) found that, "when used in collaborative learning methods and leadership that is aimed at improving the school through technology planning, technology impacts achievement in content area learning, promotes higher-order thinking and problem solving skills, and prepares students for the workforce.” reported that “
Another reason for technology integration is the necessity of today's students to have 21st Century Skills. The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory defines Digital-Age Literacy as the following:
- Basic Literacy: Language proficiency (in English) and numeracy at levels necessary to function on the job and in society to achieve one's goals and to develop one's knowledge and potential in this Digital Age.
- Scientific Literacy: Knowledge and understanding of the scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity.
- Economic Literacy: The ability to identify economic problems, alternatives, costs, and benefits; analyze the incentives at work in economic situations; examine the consequences of changes in economic conditions and public policies; collect and organize economic evidence; and weigh costs against benefits.
- Technological Literacy: Knowledge about what technology is, how it works, what purposes it can serve, and how it can be used efficiently and effectively to achieve specific goals.
- Visual Literacy: The ability to interpret, use, appreciate, and create images and video using both conventional and 21st century media in ways that advance thinking, decision making, communication, and learning.
- Information Literacy: The ability to evaluate information across a range of media; recognize when information is needed; locate, synthesize, and use information effectively; and accomplish these functions using technology, communication networks, and electronic resources.
- Multicultural Literacy: The ability to understand and appreciate the similarities and differences in the customs, values, and beliefs of one's own culture and the cultures of others.
- Global Awareness: The recognition and understanding of interrelationships among international organizations, nation-states, public and private economic entities, sociocultural groups, and individuals across the globe.
“I’m not comfortable with technology” or “this is the way I was taught,” or “this is how I’ve taught for 10-15-20 years,” or “I don’t want to seem dumb in front of the students” can no longer be viable excuses. As society changes, the skills needed to negotiate the complexities of life also change. At the turn of the century (1900s), a person who had acquired simple reading, writing, and calculating skills was considered literate. There is an information explosion. Our students must learn HOW to access the information, HOW to analyze and evaluate it, HOW to use it to make personal and socially responsible decisions, HOW to communicate across cultures for interpersonal and presentation needs. Education can no longer be expected to disseminate a discrete body of knowledge and we must change our view of what it means to be “literate” and “educated.”