The rise and rapid development of technology both forces and allows educational institutions to integrate technology into teaching. The resources abound- both free and paid applications and websites; a variety of themes, topics, and subjects; and different delivery methods (games, simulations, lesson plans, etc.) Technology allows us to enrich our students’ learning experience, and can take them to places they would not otherwise be able to get to.
Sounds like a perfect world, right? But the reality is a bit more complex than the seemingly endless opportunities technology offers us. Lack of digital resources and slow Internet connectivity together with lack of teacher knowledge and understanding in instructional technology, hinder the effective integration of technology into schools and classrooms around the world.
According to an essay titled The Continuing Challenges of Technology Integration for Teachers, the main problem of technology integration is that it is often not integrated in a meaningful way (Morehead & LaBeau, 2005). The author, Barbara LaBeau, explains that in order to achieve higher levels of engagement, teachers must know how to utilize technology as a tool for student learning. They will then understand the benefit of technology in teaching and learning, and find meaningful ways to integrate technology into their content areas. Another cause for the difficulties in integrating technology into teaching is the lack of access to technology in some institutions (El Hariri, 2007; Capper, 2003).
According to Morehead and LaBeau, in order for schools to properly integrate technology into the curriculum, schools must (1) work together to map their curriculum so teachers understand the curriculum better, and then (2) align their technology standards. Once the foundations are in place and teachers understand technology can enhance their curriculum in many ways, teachers need to (3) receive professional development related to technology instruction in their content area (2005).
When discussing the integration of technology into the mathematics curriculum, most of the challenges are similar to those of the integration into the curriculum as a whole. In an article written by Gladis Kersaint, there is a clear disconnect between national recommendations, research on the use of technology in math education, and the reality of the use of technology in many classrooms. In addition, she explains the problem begins with the fact that pre-service teachers are not taught how to integrate technology into their math instruction (Kersaint, 2007). In order to properly integrate technology into the mathematics curriculum, teachers must have a mastery of the mathematics content, the pedagogical skills, and the technology used (El Hariri, 2007).
In cases where technology is integrated properly, the results are positive. Kersaint summarizes, “…the use of technology has enabled students to visualize mathematics, engage in active learning strategies, verify conjectures, have positive attitudes, and build confidence in their ability to do mathematics.”
Capper, Joanne. (2003). Complexities and challenges of integrating technology into the curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.techknowlogia.org/TKL_Articles/PDF/471.pdf
El Hariri, Maha. (2007). The difficulties facing technology integration into mathematics education in Lebanon. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&ved=0CGQQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmath.arizona.edu%2F~atp-mena%2Fconference%2Fpresentations%2FMaha_El_Harriri_Technology_Integration_Education.ppt&ei=ORV2UePyG4XkrAeYvYGoBQ&usg=AFQjCNHAIJfomV_R8QMulDyx882ncJejBA&sig2=WkNmFOuPgO_cQMgDGzr5Og&bvm=bv.45512109,d.bmk
Kersaint, Gladis. (2007). Toward technology integration in mathematics education: A technology-integration course planning assignment. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 7(4). Retrieved from http://www.citejournal.org/vol7/iss4/mathematics/article1.cfm
Morehead, Pamela & LaBeau, Barbara. (2005) The continuing challenges of technology integration for teachers. Retrieved from http://www.usca.edu/essays/vol152005/moreheadrev.pdf