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Overview Of Education Technology, Learning Theories And Technology Integration

Overview of Education Technology, Learning Theories and Technology Integration


By the end of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Explain the definition, tools and processes of education technology.
  • Identify the importance of using technology in education.
  • Discuss the issues of technology in education.
  • Identify effective models for technology integration based on learning theories.
  • Identify the strategies and methods to use technology to communicate and collaborate   with peers, parents and the larger community in order to nurture student   learning.
  • Create through use of a desktop publishing application a newsletter on learning theories   and technology integration whose target audience is parents.


Integration of technology into the curriculum involves instructional design of the learning objectives, content and technology standards, teaching methodology and specific technology tools into a learning activity. In order to create effective technology integration into the curriculum, a teacher has to have a well-thought out plan that is based on research.

The three-prong approach to technology integration into the curriculum involves

  1. foundations of technology where students are exposed to basic technology operations and concepts
  2. specialty content area(s) that adhere to content standards to meet school curriculum objectives and
  3. implementation of teaching methodologies that facilitate technology tools

Technology should be viewed as a tool to enhance a learning activity, not the focal point of the learning activity. For this reason, planning for technology integration involves content and technology standards, teaching methodologies and appropriate technology tools.

This lesson explores the effective use of technology in education through discussion of what educational technology is, how learning theories affect teaching methodology, issues related to technology in education and effective use of specific technologies in today’s classroom.

Educational Technology

Educational technology is not a new concept. In the past educational technology was identified as use of media to communicate learning. Past technologies included overheads, videos, laser disks, and TVs.  Each of these technologies, however, was passive instead of interactive. The new media technologies of today can be interactive and include computers, hand-held devices like Palms, Smart Boards, assistive technology devices for special needs, digital cameras and digital camcorders.  Instructional designs that apply these new media technologies describe the process of educational technology.  Educational technology is not just the technology device, it the application of technology as a tool to enhance a planned instructional event or learning activity that is related to a content standard. 

Why Use Technology?

Schools and learning activities have a long history without any technology. To explore why one would use a technology tool in instructional design, one must look at today’s learner. Children today are visual learners. They have grown up with TVs, hand-held games and computers, thus in a traditional classroom many students may be bored or not engaged.  They rely on multi-sensory input for processing ideas and forming new concepts. Information comes from many different sources and they use different sensory input to process information. Howard Gardiner developed his theory of multiple intelligences to explain unique, distinct strengths which identify different learners and learning styles. As a result of Gardiner’s and other educators’ theories one sees that children learn differently.

Research has shown that to use technology in education just because it exists is not appropriate. Technology needs to be evaluated in terms of its effectiveness in a learning environment. The Center for Applied Research in Educational Technology (CARET) is a funded project of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to provide research evidence of the impact of technology on education. THE CARET site has a reading list that explores research conducted on the effectiveness of technology in the curriculum.  Questions they have tried to answer include the following:

  • Does use of technology increase student achievement?
  • Does use of technology alleviate class management problems?
  • Can technology be used with different kinds of learners?
  • Does use of technology foster higher order thinking skills?

In a learning activity there exist different components: teacher, pedagogy, learner, content and technology. Trying to isolate the effect of technology can be difficult to discern at times. Can a student learn a concept if the teacher is good, but not using technology? Can a student learn if technology is used, but the pedagogy is weak? The impact of technology has to be looked at on an individual basis and also as part of the total learning experience.

On the basis of the CARET project and others like it, effective use of technology in a learning environment occurs when:

  • Technology is used as a tool in a learning activity
  • Technology supports the curriculum objective
  • Technology is aligned with content and technology standards that are appropriate to the learning outcomes
  • Technology is used to further an authentic learning activity
  • Technology promotes collaboration and group work
  • Technology targets specific multiple intelligences
  • Technology fosters a creative, problem-solving learning experience
  • Technology provides the opportunity for alternate assessment

Technology can generally motivate students because it provides an interactive, hands-on environment for students to develop knowledge. In today’s world the use of technology exists in all careers and in everyday life. Students develop technology skills which they transfer outside the classroom walls and into future careers. Technology helps prepare students to live in today and tomorrow’s world. Specific technologies can also improve learning for students’ with special needs and provide learning at the learner’s pace.

For the teacher, use of technology in education can provide a more productive teaching environment. The teacher can electronically prepare classroom resources, provide varied learning activities targeting multiple intelligences, provide students with tools to efficiently organize information, maintain electronic record keeping procedures, and provide students with alternative assessment opportunities. Learning activities integrating technologies can be designed to focus on development of higher order thinking skills. Information is readily available in today’s world through books, media and Internet. Technology provides an efficient means for students to transform information into knowledge.

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