Engaged learning is both student centered and collaborative; it is a process where both the student and the teacher work together to construct knowledge (Conrad and Donaldson, 2011). In other words, the student and the teacher are partners building knowledge and answering essential questions. According to Conrad and Donaldson (2011), key elements of engaged learning include students establishing their own goals, working together in groups, exploring appropriate resources to answer meaningful questions, performing tasks that are meaningful and have real world connections, and using performance based assessments that are rich in content and are ongoing.
Today, Language Arts instructors need to design lessons that integrate technology, after all, according to Roblyer and Doering (2013),the definition of literacy has changed because just as new technologies emerge, so too does the need for new literacies. These new literacies include: digital literacy and information literacy. Digital literacy isn’t just about using the computer; it has evolved, and it now means using informational skills “that technological devices carry, in addition to skills in using the devices themselves”(Roblyer and Doering, 2013 pg. 267). The other spectrum of literacy, information literacy, refers to an individual having the ability and awareness to recognize when information is needed and then being able to evaluate the information and use it effectively(Roblyer and Doering, 2013 pg. 268).
Therefore, the relative advantage to integrating technology seems clear: to foster literacy in the 21st century; moreover, to produce 21st century literature. Everyday, students use a variety of technological tools to gather and synthesize information, and both using and teaching technology as an instructional strategy allows the learner to use language skills on multiple levels through multiple tools and interfaces. In addition, the realtive advatage of technology integration that offers differentiated learning strategies seems infinite in that technology affords the instructor numerous opportunites to differentiate, depending on the instructor’s creativity and mastery at lesson planning and instructional design. However, even a novice can improve differentation through any means of technology integration as long as the goal is to enhance the learning experience.
Conrad, R. & Donaldson, J. (2011). Engaging the online learner. Jon Wiley & Sons.
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th ed.). Allyn & Bacon.