Image Linked to HPMC Occupational Medical Services

When it comes to road-trip planning, I must admit that I am a little old fashion.  I have not yet adopted the use of GPS, so before I take off, I have to consult a map to look for the best route.  It doesn’t matter how much I pre-plan a trip, there is usually something unexpected that comes up in the journey.  What’s worse, is traveling on a known route, just because I always have gone that way.  Even though they have added many traffic lights and it is much more congested than before, I don’t bother considering other options.  Just because we have always traveled down the same road, doesn’t mean that it is the best route to take.  This analogy is intended to advocate the use of technology to accomplish certain goals in education; the process of learning is the trip and the route is the method.

The primary purpose of this assignment is to consider how technology integration can benefit content area instruction.  Since the topic is rather broad, I have decided to narrow the focus on access that technology provides between the teacher and student.  The term social presences refers to the amount of individual attention a teacher can give a student during a lesson cycle (Kemp, 2012).  Considering the traditional approach to education, a teacher has a set period of time per day that a group of students is present.  This is one reason class size has always been an important topic in education.  As budgets are tightening, school administrations are encouraging newer approaches for educating their students, because rather than reducing class sizes, likely they will increase if the traditional approach continues (Education Week, 2012). However, through web 2.0 tools, students and teachers can communicate directly with each other in written and spoken form.

Sometimes, regardless of the content area instruction, a teacher needs to have individual contact with students, whether is be for specialized instruction or assessment. A traditional class with 20-40 students makes that very difficult.  Besides the obvious vigilance that a teacher must give to a whole class at any given time, there are other social issues to consider for the timid learners, who may not feel comfortable voicing doubts or opinions in front of a group of peers.  Although traditional learning environments have benefits of social engagement with students and teacher, there are social distractions too that can cause a learning environment to not be optimal for delivering content.   Therefore, I believe technology offers a solution for giving students better individual access to a teacher’s guidance.  Teacher communication done through web 2.0 tools allows students to access the information when needed and when it is more relevant, plus it can be viewed multiple times. As many administrators are considering online delivery of content courses, learner-centeredness becomes and important approach to helping students set and achieve their learning goals (Rice, 2011).

Going back to the road and map analogy, we can say that there is more than one way to arrive to a destination.  Though curriculum calls for a well designed plan before you start the trip, often the reality is that there are many unforeseen obstacles and perhaps even some detours along the way. In time, I believe that some technology will act as a GPS system for education.  We start the journey in the right direction, then we let the GPS system guide us to the best route.  The more education begins to harness the power of technology to review student performance data and cater instruction to a student, the less dependent it will be on curriculum road mapping.  Secondly, some teachers have been traveling the road of a particular content area for a while and the way that they have always gone, may be the best way for them to deliver that content.  However, as time passed, more options have become available, and there may be more efficient ways to span the distance. The further removed the approach is from the learner, the less they can relate, and the more traffic lights will be added to hinder that route.   

Therefore, I see technology integration as a benefit to educators.  It has the potential to engage all learners, but for some learners, technology offers them other options for engaging, where they might not feel as comfortable in a classroom social setting.  It also has the potential to be more relevant to them, especially when different options are available to them for arriving to the destination.  Lastly, technology integration has the potential of providing real time directions for delivering the content, and the more student centered the content can be,  a more authentic learning experience will take place.