By Michael Hilkemeijer
We all live in a world that is continually being molded by techno-putty that shapes the way we live, work, and play. Such a world has been coined a number of names such as ICT-integrated world, knowledge society, information society, digital society, and so on.
Okay. I have just explained the reason why ICT integration in the classroom is important. However, it a lot to do with delivering a curriculum that is engaging, authentic, meaningful, and motivating for children.
Consequently, ICT integration in the classroom in meaningful context-driven activities develops ICT capability. I will get to this point soon.
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Amid all this drive for you as a teacher who integrates ICT is society’s push for new technological developments. A lot of this ends up in pamphlets on your lap about new tech that you should try in the classroom.
Now I do believe that as teachers we should keep up to date with these developments. However, as a teacher myself, I know that many of my colleagues all have one thing in common. Lack of time.
So yes, we do need to try new tech, but it takes time for you to know about them in the first place, time to learn about them, time to practice them effectively, and then time for you to evaluate its use, time to reflect on it and finally time to improve on its use.
This issue is part of a problem, for example, of what is known as Integrated Learning Software or Subject-specific software such as literacy software. If you have one that you are familiar with, great. Use it wisely. They are designed for literacy learning only.
Every new technological development that comes to your attention has these issues in common.
As I am Australian, I am going to use the national curriculum as an example of what I am about to discuss with you.
Within the curriculum, the development of ICT capability or the integration of digital technologies is encouraged to take place within meaningful context-driven activities throughout the English Learning Area.
ICT capability development can only occur if:
- The software is content-free and generic.
- Enables a high degree of decision making by students.
- The software challenges students intellectually.
- Students have full control over the technology.
Within the context of literacy, and this brings me back to the purpose of this discussion, much of the software that you can use to develop literacy and ICT capability in primary education include:
- Word processors;
- Desktop publishers;
- Web creation and development;
- Blogging and Wikis;
- Spreadsheets and databases;
- Presentation software and;
- Information literacy (web searching skills).
All these ICT tools that can be used in literacy teaching and learning are widespread throughout classrooms and most importantly, they are all used outside the classroom walls in businesses and industries. So integrating them into literacy learning has the potential to empower students by preparing for future jobs.
They are also probably present in your classroom. To add to this, you most likely know and are familiar with them in some shape or form. This means that you don’t need a lot of time as you would need for new technology that was just dropped onto your desk.
Being generic, also means that it is affordable.
Integrating new technology into classroom practice like that in literacy is good for you as well for the students in your care. However, ICT integration in the classroom is about imagining the potential for learning within the context it is taught with the ‘here and now’ of the available technology. It is not about the next big technological development to come around and solve your problems of integrating.