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Module Eight: Technology in the High School Classroom Meeting the Needs of Millennial Students for K-12

A Generation Born Into Technology

High school students today have never known a world without technology.  This generation dubbed the "Millennials," born from roughly 1982 to 2002, are the first generation to grow up surrounded by digital media (Marx, 2006, Gleason, 2008, Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005).  “Millennials … live in a world jam-packed with information and entertainment,” reports Stephen Baker in the July 12, 2004 issue of Business Week. “They practically grew up with the Internet, so they’re far more likely to regard information as something they can control. This thinking extends from one device to the next.”  In order to engage these learners today, instructional delivery, projects, and assignments must have direct connections to relevant technologies.
Integrating Technology in Teaching and Learning

Technology access differs from campus to campus and district to district and it is up to teachers to adapt to the technology available. Today’s teachers have to think beyond the content and learning objectives and now get to choose and develop what kinds of content their students can access, create and which technologies to use. Kerr (1996) argues that integrating technology into classroom practice requires “a radical shift in both teaching style and the teacher’s vision of what classroom life is all about. This new vision is one that changes the teacher’s role in basic ways, reducing the importance of ‘chalk and talk,’ increasing the need for sensitivity to individual students’ problems and achievements, shifting how classrooms are laid out, how evaluation is conducted, how teachers relate to their colleagues, and a hundred other particulars of daily life in schools” (p. 24). While more than ten years has passed since Kerr’s claim, it still holds true that integrating technology into classrooms requires planning and a willingness to experiment.

Many campuses have dedicated technology labs that teachers can sign up their classes to use for special projects.  It is also common to have computers on wheels or "COWS" that can be checked out and used in the classroom for Internet research, writing, and collaborative group projects.  Even if only one laptop is available for classroom use, a high school teacher can set the laptop up in a learning center where students are given assignments; they then rotate from center to center and complete a part of their work using the laptop. An often-overlooked technology device brought into the classroom every day is the smart phone.  District policy usually prohibits the use of cellular devices while on campus, but it does not prohibit the instructional use of these devices under the supervision of a classroom teacher.  Smart phones can be used for research, taking an instructional poll, using a text response, and many other activities to engage learners. In addition, teachers can set up course work, wikis, blogs, discussion boards, and other interactive learning opportunities in free technologies such as Googledocs, Moodle, and online file storage sites.

Free Technologies for Teachers

Many organizations and companies are committed to assisting education in the pursuit to open free technology access to teachers and their students. It is imperative that administrators, teachers, and school districts continue to research the available options for meeting the technology needs of their students.  The district technology department usually reviews these resources to ensure that the source is reliable and compatible with the district technology policies and network. 

 
A few free technology resources websites follow below:
Reference List
 
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