Technology in Today’s Classroom: Are You a TechSavvy Teacher?
Stephanie Diamond Hicks
To cite this article: Stephanie Diamond Hicks (2011) Technology in Today’s Classroom: Are You a
Tech-Savvy Teacher?, The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas,
84:5, 188-191, DOI: 10.1080/00098655.2011.557406
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/00098655.2011.557406
Published online: 11 Aug 2011.
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The Clearing House, 84: 188–191, 2011
Copyright C Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 0009-8655 print; 1939-912x online
Technology in Today’s Classroom:
Are You a Tech-Savvy Teacher?
STEPHANIE DIAMOND HICKS
Abstract: Technology has changed the way the world
functions on a day-to-day basis, but what about education? Education has been directly affected by the increase of technology in the United States. This change
has not been well accepted by some members of the
educational community, thus leaving the realm of education behind in the technology era. This article seeks
to focus on the benefits of technology in the classroom
as well as some of the issues that surround teachers and
technology. The article also delves into the future of
technology and education and provides some helpful
tips for technology use in the classroom.
Keywords: technology, teacher resistance to technology,
professional development, teacher education
When most of today’s educators were in school,
technology was not available like it is now.
Schools did not have the Internet, e-mail, smart boards,
or any technological tools to enhance the learning experience. Letters were sent by what we now call “snail
mail,” and students worked on typewriters to prepare
documents. In today’s classroom technology abounds
and students are extremely tech savvy. Even the youngest
children are able to manipulate technology in and out
of the classroom. Technology has also presented challenges in the classroom, especially in the area of teachers’ technology proficiency levels and their abilities to
successfully apply technology. The school setting has
undergone drastic reformation in a very short period of
time because of the advancements in technology that
we enjoy today, and with this change comes an alteration in the job description of teachers. The new job
requirement—one must be tech savvy.
In today’s educational system technology is inevitable. Technology ultimately boasts many benefits
when used in the classroom and can enrich the learning
Mrs. Stephanie Diamond Hicks, EdS, is at Fyffe High School, Business Education,
experiences of students. According to the National Education Technology Standards, “Teachers [are to] exhibit
knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of
an innovative professional in a global and digital society” (International Society for Technology in Education
2008). Therefore, teachers must strive to embrace technology and the benefits that it has to offer so that they
can meet the needs of digital native learners. According to research, it is estimated that the learning curve on
technology doubles every 18 months; thus, it is essential
that teachers remain lifelong learners in the area of technology (Reed-Swale 2009). Unlike other fads that have
come and gone in the educational arena, technology is
here to stay and it is probable that the use of technology
in schools will dramatically increase over time.
Today’s students are unlike any the educational system has ever experienced. Members of this generation
are most often referred to as “digital natives” or the “Net
generation” because they have been immersed in technology since birth. They are expert computer gamers,
whizzes on Facebook and Twitter, and most can text
more words per minute than they can type. A national
report by the Kaiser Family Foundation noted that students between the age of 8 and 18 spend an average of 7
hours and 38 minutes per day engaged in entertainment
media (Dessoff 2010). The saturation of technology in
students’ lives has produced an entirely different type
of student, shaping the way they think, learn, and experience the world around them.
Despite the advantages that technology offers, many
teachers are still resistant to technology use in the
classroom. The past two decades have experienced
an exponential increase in the available amount of
Technology in Today’s Classroom 189
technology, as well as the frequency of technology
use in the classroom. Classroom expectations and
educational standards have also changed because
of the integration of technology in the classroom,
resulting in technology becoming a classroom necessity
rather than a luxury. This change has been hard for
some teachers to accept, which unfortunately produces
teacher resistance to technology use in the classroom.
There are multiple reasons that teachers resist technology. The most prevalent reason is that they fear they
will “look stupid” in front of their tech-savvy students
because of their inability to effectively utilize technology in the classroom (O’Hanlon 2009). This produces
feelings of inadequacy, causing teachers to feel insecure and intimidated by technology use. Most teachers recognize the importance of maintaining a level of
professionalism within the classroom, and having obvious limited abilities concerning the use of technology
could possibly render them “unprofessional” in front
of their students. Teacher resistance to technology can
also be caused by a lack of professional development
regarding the use of technology as well as technical support for troubleshooting problems (Stein, Ginns, and
McDonald 2007). Teachers who are properly trained to
use the technology and have adequate technical support
are much more likely to integrate technology into everyday lessons within the classroom than teachers who do
not have this kind of support. Another possible reason
teachers resist technology is because they do not feel that
the benefit (student achievement) outweighs the cost
(time needed to learn and integrate the technology), or
they do not see a true need for what the technology
offers (Terrell, Dringus, and Rendulic 1995).
Benefits of Technology
The influx of technology has produced many positive
effects for students both in and out of the classroom. Because technology provides instantaneous gratification
for the user, digital natives often appear to have shorter
attention spans. The exact opposite is actually true. Research done by Sesame Street regarding the amount of
time and attention children spend watching TV found
that children who seem to be inattentive and distracted
during activities are often “soaking up” just as much
information as those who appear completely engaged.
In one experiment, a group of 5-year-old children were
shown a television program. Half of the children were
shown the program in a room filled with toys, while
the other half watched the program in a room free from
As expected, the group with toys was distracted and
watched the show only about 47 percent of the time
as opposed to 87 percent in the group without toys. But
when the children were tested for how much of the show
they remembered and understood, the scores were exactly the same. [One of the researchers, psychologist Elizabeth Lorch of Amherst College stated] “We were led to
the conclusion that the 5-year-olds in the toys group were
attending quite strategically, distributing their attention
between toy play and viewing so that they looked at what
was for them the most informative part of the program.
The strategy was so effective that the children could gain
no more from increased attention.” (Gladwell 2002)
This strategy allowed the children to attend to other
matters, such as playing with toys while also efficiently
watching television. The same concept applies in the traditional classroom. Digital natives are by practice multitaskers, often attending to multiple enjoyable activities
while doing “serious work.”
The prevalence of technology in everyday life has
shifted students toward a more visual learning style.
Students, in turn, may not respond as well to traditional
teaching methods that focus mainly on lecture and
textbook reading. Prensky (2001) notes that “Digital
Natives accustomed to the twitch-speed, multitasking,
random-access, graphics-first, active, connected, fun,
fantasy, quick-payoff world of their video games, MTV,
and Internet are bored by most of today’s education, well
meaning as it may be.” The integration of technology
into the classroom setting allows teachers the benefit
of connecting with students digitally by providing rich
learning experiences with which students can relate.
Thus, technology in the classroom is a must-have
attention keeper and ultimately meets the needs of
Technology has been proven to aid in learning when
integrated into the curriculum in a meaningful way
(Keengwe and Onchwari 2009). According to brainbased research conducted by the Semel Institute for
Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University
of California, Los Angeles, “the brains of digital natives
were more actively engaged while navigating a webpage, as opposed to reading a book” (Herther 2009).
This research indicates that the environmental influence
provided by technology has prompted the brain to be
more receptive to technology-based delivery methods
of information. The latest research in neurobiology
indicates that “stimulations of various kinds actually
changes brain structures and affects the way people
think” (Prensky 2001). Thus, consistent technology
use rewires the brain to respond more efficiently
to technology. This information is instrumental in
understanding the influence technology has on student
learning and achievement.
Technology has truly changed the educational experience for students with disabilities. New technology has
allowed students with special needs to make miraculous
gains that would not otherwise have been possible
(Hopkins 2006). In many cases, a student’s digital
ability does not directly reflect his or her intelligence
regarding core subject areas. Because of this, teachers
may be able to use technology to help students with
190 The Clearing House 84(5) 2011
special needs progress academically. Also, technology
has provided students with severe disabilities many rehabilitative tools that aid them in gaining cognitive and
physical skills and abilities. Students with disabilities
often rely on technology to function in everyday life.
Technology is also beneficial to teachers. Once
mastered, technology can save teachers enormous
amounts of time. For example, entering grades into an
electronic grade book is much faster and more efficient
than manually entering and averaging grades. Planning
and record keeping tasks also require less space and
are more easily accessible when done electronically.
Web- and computer-based programs are on the rise
in school systems across the country. Although it
takes time to learn the basics of any program, most
are worth the inconvenience and will save time and
money in the long run. Technology also provides
many other benefits, including a reduction in workload
requirements, efficiency in job performance, and the
ability to interactively involve students in the lesson.
If used purposefully, technology integration can have
a dramatic effect on the quality of teacher instruction.
Technology integration should not be something that is
done haphazardly so that teachers can meet minimum
technology requirements in the classroom. Rather,
technology integration should be meaningful—it
should have a specific purpose with measureable goals
to achieve the desired outcome. Successful technology
integration often requires additional planning, but can
be extremely rewarding for teachers and students. An
example of student success related to quality teacher
instruction using technology integration can be seen
in the Virginia educational system. Virginia recently
implemented a statewide technology program in which
schools received two extra technology personnel for
every 1,000 students (Coffman 2009). The overarching
goal of the program was to improve student achievement through the integration of technology into daily
instruction. Results indicated a statewide increase
in standardized test scores for the state of Virginia.
According to the research, the key to the success of
the program was providing teachers with adequate
training and support for the technology they used in
their classroom (Coffman 2009).
A New Kind of Teacher
By popular demand, a new kind of teacher is on the
rise in today’s teaching economy. We are beginning to
experience the first part of the generation of digital natives come through teacher preparation programs. In
the next 20 years, the educational system will see a
drastic increase in the amount of technology used in
the classroom, as well as a change in teachers’ attitudes
toward technology and ability to successfully integrate
and troubleshoot technology. This new generation will
inevitably change the way education is carried out in
American public schools.
As baby boomer teachers retire and are replaced by
new teachers, technology use will become more prevalent as well as more instrumental in the educational
system. Many of the factors that have previously led to
teacher resistance will be nearly nonexistent because of
the shift in cultural norms and practices that have affected this generation of teachers. The shift in attitude
will enable the educational system to provide digital
natives with an educational learning experience that is
truly rich with purposeful technology use.
Technology is definitely the wave of the twenty-first
century. Throughout the past couple of decades the use
and development of technology has increased exponentially, and the area of education has been no exception to
the technology boom. It is imperative that we as teachers
be supportive of new technology and work to integrate
meaningful technology into the curriculum. Because of
the conditioning that technology has provided to students of this generation and the benefits that technology
boasts, it is in the best interest of both the student and
the teacher to incorporate technology in the classroom
as often as possible. Thankfully, some technological resources have already been integrated into classrooms
around the country, and when used properly, these devices make teaching and learning more enjoyable and
also provide educational benefits to students. However,
we must not stop here. It is our job as teachers to prepare students to be successful adults. The world is ultimately embracing technology. Therefore, it is our duty
to challenge the minds of our young people and strive to
provide them with a quality educational experience that
will benefit them now as well as later in life. Technology
directly affects every aspect of life, and nearly every job
option available to Americans today requires the use of
some type of technology. Thus, it is imperative that we
use technology in the classroom, as the ultimate success
of our students depends on this fact.
Ask the Experts
Although technology can be very beneficial to both
teachers and students in the classroom, successful technology integration can also be a challenge for many
teachers. As both a technology teacher and the technology support person at my school, I would like to leave
you with some helpful technology tips that may be beneficial to you in your own classroom.
If all else fails—restart it! Many times a simple rebooting of a computer or technological device will
remedy the problems that the device is having.
Ask a student for help. Students today are very
tech savvy, most knowing more than their teachers
Technology in Today’s Classroom 191
regarding technology. This generation is made up
of gamers, MySpace junkies, and Internet specialists. These students can bypass servers through
proxy servers, and, believe it or not, most would
be willing to help you with your technology challenges. They enjoy the work, and it makes them
feel like they are needed. I have also found that students with behavior problems do well at this job,
and usually their classroom behavior improves due
to trust factors.
Before you call for help, be sure that everything
is plugged in! The number-one technology complaint that I receive is connection problems. More
times than not, a student has unplugged a cord.
This is true from kindergarten all the way through
grade 12. So, before you call tech support, be sure
that everything is plugged in.
Be patient. Please note that most technology repair
people are overworked and underpaid. Some must
keep the school’s technology running on top of
working a regular teaching job. It is very important
that teachers realize these limitations and work patiently with technology personnel.
Learn as much as you can. The more you can do yourself, the more confident you will be in using and
working with technology. Technology is an asset
to any classroom, and a tech-savvy teacher can accomplish more using technology than others can
without using it. Always remember that practice
makes perfect. The more you use technology, the
better you will be at using it and the more you will
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Gladwell, M. 2002. The tipping point: How little things can make a big
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Herther, N. K. 2009. Digital natives and immigrants. Online 33 (6):
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