Shannan Muskopf
Master's Degree in Educational Technology



Technology in the classroom and in the schools will serve schools in many capacities. Teacher directed instruction will be supplemented by the use of technology in the classroom where students become more responsible for their own learning, and the teacher takes a “guiding” role in the process of student learning, rather than a “directed role”. Technology will provide a means to communicate globally, will prepare students for a future in a technology based world, will encourage student responsibility, and will improve overall student achievement in the core subject areas. This technology will not supplant traditional teaching methods, but instead will incorporate itself smoothly into already established and proven methods of teaching. The following sections will focus on the individual elements of this vision statement.

Technology as a means of global communication

Providing students with access to the world wide web will allow them to explore areas that were not accessible to students in the past. I envision students collaborating and discussing ideas with others outside the classroom. The worldwide web can provide a forum for the discussion of ideas with experts that are not normally accessible to the average public school teacher.

For example, the teacher may not be able to bring scientists working on the human genome project to their classroom, but students will be able to pose questions to those people across the web, in a forum or e-mail type environment. Students in social studies classes will not need to rely on textbook pictures and descriptions of what life is like in the Russia, they will be able to link up with classrooms and talk to other students personally. Students can even use web cams to look into the space shuttle and even send e-mail to astronauts.

Technology will prepare students for the future

Incorporating technology into the classroom should be an important component of any school’s curriculum. Schools sometimes refer to this as the “hidden curriculum”, the idea is that schools are not just responsible for insuring that students can conjugate a verb and do algebra, but they are also responsible for providing the tools necessary for the student’s prolonged success after graduation.

Each student should be experienced in using the available technology, using the world wide web for a basic search, gathering resources for a term paper, using a digital camera to take pictures of their hometowns and post those pictures on the web for others to see. Even seemingly mundane elements of technology should not be ignored. Students should be exposed to a wide variety of media, and understand the basic uses of that media. This could be as simple as using a word processing program to write a term paper, or as complex as creating spread sheets and tables on the computer, creating an html document and posting it on the web as part of a project. Each of these things prepares the student for life after graduation, where most companies rely on technology.

Technology will encourage student responsibility

The traditional classroom relies on teacher directed instruction and follows a basic formula: teacher gives information, students are expected to learn the information, and are tested on their understanding of the concepts the teacher presented in class. Students have very little input into the pace of their learning or the subject matter they learn. This tends to cause apathy and rebelliousness among the students. Using technology as a medium for learning can shift some of the responsibility of learning onto the student. The teacher is not the sole director of lecture based information, but would serve as a guide in the process of the student’s learning. This method cannot be implemented unless the technology exists for students to work independently. Picture a computer lab with software on the dissection of the frog. Students will pull up their “virtual frog” and perform a variety of experiments on it. This is self directed, it gives the student choices, and inspires exploration. Meanwhile, the teacher need only outline the goals of the lesson and set certain parameters for achievement. The student becomes responsible for her own learning.

Technology will improve overall student achievement

Technology in the classroom will improve the achievement levels in core subject areas. Putting computers into the classroom and letting students do whatever they want is not the answer. It is important that goals and expectations for achievement are clearly stated by the teacher. The technology supports these goals, rather than replaces them.

Most school improvement plans focus on the very obvious, are the students that leave the school being prepared in all subject matters. Are standardized test scores within acceptable levels? What subject areas need improvement? The use of technology can improve student achievement in all levels, by linking textbook concepts to real world situations. Many students view classrooms as microcosms of learning. Math classes spend hours learning formulas and properties and the students don’t understand what the point of this is. Using computers and communication media is one way of bridging the gap between the classroom and the real world. Ideally, students don’t just learn algebra for the sake of algebra, they also can learn how to apply it real problems. For instance, there is a computer program that allows students to build and run a virtual theme park. They can visualize the construction of an amusement park, design and create a roller coaster using the formulas and math the textbooks offer and see exactly how the numbers relate to real world constructions. The program even goes into the business side of the park, allowing for different methods of advertising and monitoring budgets. Such a method also inspires exploration and motivation, and even bridges the gap between math and other academic studies, such as physics or business. As long as the teacher gives clear goals and serves as a guide, the program is not just a fun game, but is a learning experience.

In conclusion, my philosophy for technology in schools has several components, which illustrate that the technology is not meant to stand alone, but rather to incorporate itself into already established curriculums and school wide goals. The technology should provide opportunity for students to expand their learning base and improve on basic textbook concepts, and serve as a resource for teachers and students alike.