When one chooses to integrate technology into their classroom there are a plethora of obstacles they may face in their attempts. The technology and successful use of it are themselves, a challenge. However, when one decides to take on this endeavor they do not only face these diversions in the broad sense but in a more specific nature as well in regards to challenges that the incorporation of technology creates for not only their classroom as a whole but their content area as well.
For example, in the English Language Arts classroom in which literacy has long been known to be the staple of our curriculum the idea of literacy in itself is changing. As stated in Robler, we are now faced with “new literacies” such as “21st century skills, media literacy, digital literacy, and information literacy.” Gone are the days of teaching penmanship, rote memorization of historical documents, and the one dimensional learning of the written word. In our ever changing technology infused world English Language Arts has evolved into a living, breathing, daily practice of skills that allow for one to communicate with the world, which is very literally at the fingertips of our students.
A more specific obstacle that this educational shift brings to the English Language Arts classroom is that of performing reading tasks online. I see this very stumbling block in my own classroom where I have 7th grade students who are well below grade level in their reading and comprehension skills. Reading a text online presents a whole new set of challenges beyond their ability to read at great level when the text their accessing online may be multimodal and include a combination of, “text, visual images, links, sounds, and other design features.” (Robler) When reading a text of this sort the student is no longer just a consumer of print material, concrete, and possibly abstract ideas but now they must also become navigators, interpreters, designers, and interrogators as Robler states that the students still use and require decoding skills but do so in the non linear fashion of the four roles listed above. Though it may seem to be an uphill battle to add multimodal texts on top of low reading levels this is an obstacle that may actually, with strategic planning and intentional teaching strategies, turn into a benefit to both the instructor and the student.
Our students of today live in a multimedia world. Therefore, the simplest way to overcome the challenge of low reading levels and the complex world of online text is to implement strategies that aide our students in navigating such texts. If we help students identify how to manipulate the visuals, audio, and supplemental material such as links to another resources in an organized and logical manner they will become much more “literate” in this 21st century way of accessing and reading text. Furthermore, when students are able to move beyond the role in which they consume such text into a more active role of creating the same kind of text we are able to pave the way for “self expression, increasing writing frequency and formats, and broadening the audiences for whom students write” (Robler). All of which foster authenticity and student choice which have long been proven to increase motivation and engagement. Regardless of a student’s ability level their interest in a subject ensures a greater effort and overall quality of work. This in turn will help keep them working through that productive cognitive struggle in which academic and personal growth occurs. Thus, turning what was initially seen as an obstacle into an opportunity for achievement and success.
Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (7 ed). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc