• IDRA Newsletter • May 2002 • 

Connecting Curriculum and Technology, excerpted from International Society for Technology in Education

Essential Conditions to Make it Happen

Students in a Chicago elementary school recently used technology to explore the history of Ice Age animals in Illinois. Using the Internet, they “traveled” to the Illinois State Museum (200 miles away) and the Brookfield Zoo (10 miles away) to gather information and talk with experts via two-way video. The students constructed an electronic database to organize and analyze their information and shared their findings with students outside their own school through multimedia reports posted on a web site titled, “Mastodons in Our Own Backyard.”

Successful learning activities, such as this, depend on more than just the technology. Certain conditions are necessary for schools to effectively use technology for learning, teaching, and educational management. Physical, human, financial, and policy dimensions greatly affect the success of technology use in schools.

A combination of essential conditions are required to create learning environments conducive to powerful uses of technology, including:

  • Vision with support and pro-active leadership from the education system;
  • Educators skilled in the use of technology for learning;
  • Content standards and curriculum resources;
  • Student-centered approaches to learning;
  • Assessment of the effectiveness of technology for learning;
  • Access to contemporary technologies, software, and telecommunications networks;
  • Technical assistance for maintaining and using technology resources;
  • Community partners who provide expertise, support, and real-life interactions;
  • Ongoing financial support for sustained technology use; and
  • Policies and standards supporting new learning environments.

Enriched learning environments supported by technology provide rich opportunities for students to find and utilize current information and resources, and apply academic skills for solving real-world problems.

Traditional educational practices no longer provide students with all the necessary skills for economic survival in today’s workplace. Students today must apply strategies for solving problems using appropriate tools for learning, collaborating, and communicating.

Incorporating New Strategies

The most effective learning environments meld traditional and new approaches to facilitate learning of relevant content while addressing individual needs. The resulting learning environments should prepare students to:

  • Communicate using a variety of media and formats;
  • Access and exchange information in a variety of ways;
  • Compile, organize, analyze, and synthesize information;
  • Draw conclusions and make generalizations based on information gathered;
  • Know content and be able to locate additional information as needed;
  • Become self-directed learners;
  • Collaborate and cooperate in team efforts; and
  • Interact with others in ethical and appropriate ways.

Teachers know that the wise use of technology can enrich learning environments and enable students to achieve marketable skills. It is still critical, however, that educators analyze the potential benefits of technology for learning and employ it appropriately.

Excerpted from National Educational Technology Standards for Students Connecting Curriculum and Technology, International Society for Technology in Education, 2000, http://www.iste.org.

Traditional Learning Environments
Teacher-centered instruction –––––––––
Single-sense stimulation –––––––––––––
Single-path progression –––––––––––––
Single media –––––––––––––––––––––
Isolated work ––––––––––––––––––––
Information delivery ––––––––––––––––
Passive learning –––––––––––––––––––

Factual, knowledge-based learning ––––

Reactive response –––––––––––––––––
Isolated, artificial context ––––––––––––

New Learning Environments
Student-centered instruction
Multisensory stimulation
Multipath progression
Collaborative work
Information exchange
Active, exploratory, inquiry-based learning
Critical thinking and informed decision-making
Pro-active, planned action
Authentic, real-world context

Comments and questions may be directed to IDRA via e-mail at feedback@idra.org.

[©2002, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the May 2002 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association.  Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]