Technology in the Classroom
The advent of new technologies is not only changing the face of education, it is redefining the classroom itself. In public schools across the country, 97% of teachers reported that they had one or more computers in their classroom (Institute of Educational Sciences, 2009). Teachers will have to adapt to the growing Internet environment to gain a wealth of information. But because technology and society are always in a state of change, good teachers will find and use a variety of resources to help them present interesting and relevant information to students (Reeve, 2006). The year 2007 marked the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. Baby boomers are beginning to retire, with a large exit of teachers as a possibility. What better time to put as much technology in the classroom as possible? With young people right out of college with a fresh and new perspective, young teachers will fill the vacant teacher seats that are becoming available. With new technology entering the classrooms and new teachers entering the job place, the old pencil-and-paper ways of learning make way for the new digital generation. Researchers believe that educators and educational agencies must stress teaching and learning in 21st century content, skills, and assessments (Donovan, Hartley, & Strudler, 2007).
To research the effectiveness of technology in middle school learning, 70 sixth-grade middle school students participated in a 4-week research study. The study was broken into two sections: a control group and an experimental group. All students remained in their normal classrooms, learning the scheduled curriculum. Students in the control group learned without the use of technology (e.g., computers, data projectors, whiteboards, iPods), while the experimental group allowed students to access all technology resources available to the teacher. Students’ grades were kept in a spreadsheet and analyzed at the conclusion of the study.
In the first 2-week section, students were involved in their normal teacher-prepared lessons and curriculum with the exception of controlling for technology. Lessons were, in large part, straight from the textbook, worksheets, and quiz questions. At the end of the first 2 weeks, the students completed a survey of their thoughts and attitudes toward their learning with questions such as, “What form of teaching helped you learn best?” and, “What form of technology helped you learn the best?” The second section of the study involved inclusion of new technology in the lessons. Video streaming, podcasting, wireless tablet use, laptops, data projectors, and power points were used in conjunction with normal lesson plans. The students took another survey at the end of the second section to evaluate their thoughts and feelings. Assessments were used intermittently during the month and a final assessment at the end of the study. Worksheets, section reviews, and quizzes were the primary forms of assessment.