Technology integration is the effective use of technology inside the classroom to better facilitate learning and prepare students for the realities of living in the digital era. This can include everything from frequent computer use in the classroom, where students learn how to effectively perform research using the Internet and computers, to the use of technology such as smart boards, digital projectors, and electronic textbook supplements. Technology integration is vital for classrooms and structured education striving to keep up with advances to technology not only in the different ways that students can learn, but also in the ways in which they will be expected to utilize the knowledge and skills they learn.
In some ways technology integration can be fairly simple. This is because a great deal of technology is designed and created especially for use in the classroom. The actual implementation of this technology, however, can be difficult because it relies on the budget of the school and the school district to pay for the hardware and software needed. This equipment can be expensive, especially for a school with dozens of classrooms that all could use improved technology. This means that technology integration can often be a slow process, and a school may only have select classrooms with advanced technology while other rooms still use older equipment.
The utilization of computers and the Internet is one of the most common forms of technology integration found in many classrooms. There are many programs that provide free computers or computers at low costs for schools, and this allows students to work on computers while in the classroom. This type of computer use enables teachers to instruct students on how to effectively perform research using the Internet, as well as how to operate various computer programs they will likely use in future education and employment. These include word processing programs, spreadsheet creation, and the use of presentation software.
Technology integration can go beyond basic computer and Internet use, however, and can involve the use of educational technology such as smart boards and digital projectors. Smart boards are similar to common classroom whiteboards that can be written on with dry erase markers. The smart board, however, uses a hardware interface to create digital representations of what is written, allowing the hand writing to be converted to typed text, made interactive, and otherwise create further opportunities for organization and lesson presentation on the board.
Digital projectors can replace older overhead projectors and create a projected image from a computer or similar input device, rather than from a printed transparency. This allows a teacher to work at a computer and show what is being done to the entire class, which is especially helpful for demonstrating research techniques or software use. Technology integration can also include the use of digital supplements provided with many classroom textbooks, expanding on what is within the book and providing interactive lessons for students and teachers.