Technology & Learning, October 1998, p. 32

Here is a summary of six case studies that profile what’s working for teachers who have integrated technology into their classroom curricula:

  1. High-tech modular classes. Idaho junior high teacher David Heath says the mission of his technology classes is to arm students with the skills they need to be able to live and work in a technical society. Heath employs the modular rotation technique of instruction where students work on one project on one station and then rotate to another project on another station. Heath also informs students up front what is expected of them and how they will be graded on the different projects. He says this is important since students often work in groups as well as on their own and need to know how they will be evaluated. To emphasize the importance of communicating to others in the information age, Heath also grades students on their ability to explain the technology techniques they’ve learned.

  2. Organization and donations. Louisiana high school teacher Brenda King employs a similar rotation technique where students switch through seven separate learning areas every 20 days. This plan allows them to experience the full range of technology offerings in the classroom, such as robotics, online research, and Web page authoring. King also spearheaded an effort to get more computers available for students by soliciting equipment donations from local businesses and individuals through a newspaper classified ad.

  3. Team work. Illinois junior high teacher Barb Wagner oversees a “Tech Prep Lab” that emphasizes the vocational aspects of technology. While the program also uses modules, students cannot begin hands-on work until they learn the ground rules of the lab, including grade evaluation criteria. Teamwork, independence, and problem solving are at the core of the program as well, where students are encouraged to help each other before seeking a teacher’s assistance.

  4. Student mentors. Tennessee high school teacher Judy Beier has added a digital component to her commercial art class. One group of students works with traditional art media, while another group goes digital and uses graphics and desktop publishing software. More advanced students serve as mentors to students who would otherwise have to ask an instructor for help. Evaluation replicates real-world use of time sheets.

  5. One computer, no problem. Oklahoma third-grade teacher Jamie Brehm says that while having a single computer in the classroom demands forethought and planning, it is still better than no computer at all. Students have already been introduced to PowerPoint presentation software and are able to create their own presentation story boards using paper and markers. In addition, Brehm does not shy away from putting students in touch with the inner workings of hardware, often opening up computers to explain how they work.

  6. Custom projects. Wyoming high school teacher Ron Ankeny lets his independent study students decide for themselves the kinds of computer projects they want to participate in. Ankeny then sets the evaluation criteria, provides them with the support and software they’ll need for the project, and helps develop time lines and a course syllabus. Students in one program last year created an intranet for their school, which included information about classes, upcoming events, and school board meetings. Ankeny also encourages students to seek assistance from their more experienced peers.