Technology literacy is a relatively new initiative in 21st century schools. Ironically, many students tend to have more knowledge about various forms of technology than do their teachers. This is because so many students typically enjoy their digital gadgets and use them frequently for socializing, so they are well-versed in how to use technology. Teachers need to harness these existing interests and skills, and redirect them for use within a technology curriculum.
Principles, superintendents, IT directors, curriculum directors, and technology committees, along with teachers, need to consider the foundational components that go into rolling out a new technology curriculum into schools, from K-12 grade levels.
Here are five key components or areas to consider when implementing any new K-12 technology curriculum.
1. Professional Development
Many teachers don't possess the technological skills that some of their students do, and therefore often lack the confidence necessary to implement a new technology curriculum. It is essential to assess, train, and support teachers and staff members through meaningful training and modeling of the technology curriculum and its implementation. This ensures that teachers observe and practice current best practices on technology use for their respective grade levels and subjects.
2. Student Technology Curriculum
Students in grades K-12 are typically divided between those who have and eagerly use digital gadgets of all kinds, and those who do not have or use them, either due to lack of interest or skills, or no access to them. It is vital to evaluate and equip both types of students with the technology skills they need to be better students today and technologically literate or savvy global citizens for tomorrow. This means redirecting the existing skills some students have, and providing instruction for those students who lack technological skills.
3. Lesson Plan Development
The implementation of a new technology curriculum must start at the basic level of developing strategic classroom lesson plans and integrating relevant technology projects that incorporate the most current presentation tools and web 2.0 methods. These steps will serve to improve classroom instruction, engage students, and improve learning outcomes.
4. Technology Equipment and IT Support
Before any implementation of a technology curriculum can take place, it is crucial to evaluate a school technology infrastructure to ensure it is set up and prepared for maximum effectiveness of the roll out of the curriculum. This may require making the necessary additions for the school to transition through stages from an existing simple computer lab environment, to a mobile lab environment, to an efficient one-to-one device environment for all or select grade levels.
5. Assessment and Project Management
No technology curriculum implementation is complete without evaluating its effectiveness and facilitation of the achievement of designated goals for students. This falls under the category of project management, and typically requires the development of a strategic assessment plan. That plan includes periodic assessment of goals to ensure the entire project stays on task and accomplishes what it was originally designed to do.
Benefits of Technology in the Classroom
Why should schools consider implementing a technology curriculum? Consider these benefits described in a report by the U.S. Department of Education:
Changes the dynamics of student-teacher roles. Students become more active learners, rather than passive recipients, while teachers become more facilitators than lecturers of instruction.
Increases motivation and self-esteem. Students exhibit more initiative and take more pride in their accomplishments.
Improves technical skills. Even at elementary school levels, students acquire a broad range of skills with computer software and digital gadgets.
Facilitates accomplishment of more complex tasks. Students tend to develop higher-order thinking skills and processes.
Increases peer collaboration. Students enjoy working in pairs and teams, and even provide peer tutoring for those students who lack in technological skills.
Increases use of outside resources. Students have wider access to a wealth of resources outside the classroom.
Improves design skills with more focus on meeting needs of the intended audience. Students use multimedia enhancements targeted for the needs and preferences of the intended audience.