Critical Issue: Using Technology to Support Limited- English-Proficient (LEP) Students' Learning Experiences
This Critical Issue was researched and written by Asta Svedkauskaite, NCREL program specialist; Laura Reza-Hernandez, a doctoral student in educational leadership at the University of Texas, El Paso; and Mary Clifford, NCREL program associate. Editorial guidance was provided by Gil Valdez, Ph.D., chief officer, Learning Point Associates, and director, North Central Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Consortium. NCREL Program Specialist David Durian also contributed to this issue.
ISSUE: Since 1992, limited-English-proficient (LEP) student enrollment has nearly doubled. Most recent data from the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition and Language Instruction Educational Programs (NCELA) indicate that there are close to five million students identified as LEP (NCELA, 2002). The number, primarily of Latino students, has doubled in the last ten years. These skyrocketing numbers of LEP students underscore the importance of ensuring that student academic success becomes a reality and that teachers provide them with every opportunity to excel.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB, 2002) clearly sets a goal for LEP students to meet the same challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic content standards expected of all students. The law also states that every student should be technologically literate by the eighth grade, regardless of student background or family socioeconomic status. LEP students, moreover, will be tested in English after they have attended school in this country for three years.With these rigorous requirements in mind, this paper will focus on the critical issue of using technology as a tool to enrich classroom practices for LEP students. Educational technology as a learning tool can increase opportunities for students. Developing effective and adequate strategies is critical as educators and policymakers look at multiple ways to integrate technology in LEP students' learning. A thorough research-based understanding of technology integration to support and extend LEP students' learning experiences is a necessity. This Critical Issue supports the view that academic content understanding, linguistic knowledge, and technological literacy should, ideally, develop simultaneously in order to:
Together, development of these interrelated components offers a promise of making LEP student academic success a reality.
Overview | Goals | Action Options | Pitfalls | Different Viewpoints | Cases | References
Technology: A Gateway to New Experiences
Technology offers all students opportunities for learning never before imagined. Factors encouraging—or discouraging—technology use can range from the level of teacher enthusiasm and expertise to principal and parental support to quality software and hardware availability and its selection (Burgess & Trinidad, 1997, p.16). How does one define the application of this multipurpose, multifaceted tool integration? The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) (2000) defines curriculum integration as follows:
"Curriculum integration with the use of technology involves the infusion of technology as a tool to enhance the learning in a content area or multidisciplinary setting. Technology enables students to learn in ways not previously possible. Effective integration of technology is achieved when students are able to select technology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information, and present it professionally. The technology should be come an integral part of how the classroom functions—as accessible as all other classroom tools." (p. 6)Clearly, technology cannot be a goal in itself. Without a systemic integration of content and quality professional development for teachers, it is likely to only cause frustration. Technology is useful "insofar as it is handled competently by teachers and it is integrated into the teaching program as a whole" (Hoven, 1992, p.19). One of the reasons for this holistic integration of technology is the fact that there are always new technology tools entering classrooms. Therefore, the potential of such tools needs to be routinely redefined and evaluated with all students in mind. Thoughtfully selected technology tools can offer so much more than just productivity to the learner.
Over the years, research has highlighted many benefits of using instructional technology with LEP students. Competent use of computers prevents LEP learners from "academic and social marginalization" (Murray & Kouritzin, 1997, p.187). It allows them to have the most control over the direction of their learning by controlling their time, speed of learning, autonomy, choice of topics or even their own identity (Hoven, 1992). To many students, technology is motivational and nonjudgmental. It gives them prompt feedback, individualizes their learning, and tailors the instructional sequence. Technology can meet specific student needs, increase their autonomy, allow for more responsibility, promote equal opportunities in an early nonsexist environment, encourage student cooperation with peers, and encourage them to make decisions (Burgess & Trinidad, 1997). Through technology, LEP students can learn in a rich linguistic environment and find opportunities to interact with the multicultural world, extend their language skills, and not be embarrassed for not knowing answers (Padrón & Waxman, 1996, p. 344; Lee, 2000). In other words, it greatly helps build on their confidence.Manny Sanchez, Technology Coordinator at Ysletta Middle School expands on the potential of technology to enhance student self-confidence.
Manny Sanchez, Technology Coordinator at Ysletta Middle School, expands on the potential of technology to enhance student self-confidence.
Note. These nine ESL content standards under three educational goals were established in 1997 by TESOL (TESOL, 1997).
Although student native language support in the ESL Standards is not the focus, the standards embody a range of instructional programs and can be applicable in various school environments, including both ESL and bilingual. The ESL Standards allow ESL and bilingual teachers to have a dialogue with content teachers about "what learning a second language means and what learning content through a second language requires" (Short, 2000a, p. 4). Often, LEP students have very few years at school to master their English writing, reading, speaking, listening, and comprehension skills. Mastering English can be done through cognitive demanding activities. Crandall, Jaramillo, Olsen, & Peyton (2002) describe the following cognitive ways educators can support and encourage LEP students' language and literacy skill development:
Frameworks for Successful LEP Learners
Doris Reynolds, Facilitator for Foreign Language in the Elementary School Program/Teacher, Schaumburg School District #54, Schaumburg, Illinois, explains that technology offers benefits to meet the needs of all students.
Along with practitioners, researchers such as Johns and Tórrez (2001) support the fact that "the new technologies offer many possibilities to the second language learner" (p. 11). For example, they argue that computer-assisted instructional (CAI) programs are "ideal for fostering reading and writing skills in the target language" (p. 11). Critics of CAI, however, believe that traditional CAI is limited "in that it can realistically only accommodate differences in the rate at which users progress through the information base" (Bermudez & Palumbo, 1994, p. 5). Such criticism supports ongoing initiatives to integrate technology as a whole. Tools such as e-mail, databases, spreadsheets, or word processors can help enhance LEP students' English skills—and, if necessary, build on their native language skills through the availability of online dictionaries or spellcheckers (Johns & Tórrez, 2001). Technology has evolved from its support function to play a role in initiating learning processes. It can provide a flexible learning environment where students can really explore and be engaged. Hypermedia, for example, individually addresses levels of fluency, content knowledge, student motivation, and interest, allowing inclusion of LEP students, who can thus monitor their comprehension, language production, and behavior (Bermudez & Palumbo, 1994).
NCREL's enGauge® framework helps educators to understand various factors that are critical to effective use of technology in schools. Those factors, called "Essential Conditions," include shared vision, instructional and learning practices, teacher proficiency, digital-age equity, access, and systems. The enGauge® framework identifies smaller components of each essential condition necessary for success. Those components are termed "indicators," and one of them (under the "Practice" condition) includes the Range of Use technology chart. The chart indicates that all students need experiences in which they are engaged, to ensure achievement in the classroom. It models a range of technologies, including learning, productivity, visualization, research, and communication tools, to show how each relates to (1) complexity and (2) authenticity of learning, as well as (3) instructional approaches to learning (NCREL, n.d.). It becomes evident that there is a high correlation between the three dimensions. The use of technology, then, can provide an engaged learning environment that can only benefit the LEP student.
Engaged Learning Environment
Laura Juarez, O'Shea Keleher, Socorro Independent School District, El Paso, Texas, relates the excitement students express as they acquire an understanding of technology.
Technology integration defined by Reilly (2002) is curriculum development. It is one way to move teaching from teacher- to learner-centered. School reformers, such as Mehlinger (1995), believe that technology can support learner-centered instruction as practice. The relationship between students and teachers will be modified because in the past, schools were places in which the authority decided what and when content was covered; new technology provides students access to information that was once under the control of teachers (Mehlinger, 1995). To allow for greater success rates for LEP students, teachers need to integrate technology to advance student learning because technology activities, such as using the Internet or working as a team on a project, provide students with opportunities in order to enhance and extend the regular learning to higher levels of cognitive involvement.
The effect of engaging LEP students through technology can be multilayered. When technology is used as part of a model that involves students in complex authentic tasks, the results can be student-centered cooperative learning, increased teacher-student and peer interaction, and more positive attitudes toward learning (The President's Educational Technology Initiative, 1998, as cited in Kasper, 2000). When students work out a problem that requires research on the Internet, they are working closely as a team to solve the problem, allowing for greater interaction and sense of responsibility for the team. The old model of instruction places the student alone at a desk with a book, while collaboration allows learners to take an active role in helping each other to accomplish a task that is a vehicle for using authentic communication (Hanson-Smith, 1997).
Learning at high levels through technology activities shifts the learning process itself. The Internet has transformed the way we view information. It has changed our schema of how we obtain and use it. The Internet contains rich sources of information (over 4 billion Web pages), engages the user in imaginative ways and is therefore, "changing the face of instruction" (Greene, 1998, p. 21). It is a tool that can provide experiences that promote meaningful content for LEP students. They can "visit" the National Gallery of Art to view and analyze renowned artwork. They can also use information databases such as the Census indeed, should not—be limited to the textbook and local resources. Software and the Internet can "support, challenge, and enrich" any learner (Greene, 1998, p. 26). These activities can accelerate content learning by addressing relevant information and are not solely dependent on learning English. Through experiences such as these, LEP students have the opportunities to participate in an engaged learning environment and learn at higher levels.
Today's engaged classroom is more student-oriented and individualized, which allows for more social interaction, learner communication, and cooperation (Padrón & Waxman, 1996), skills of especially high value to LEP students. The teacher is not the only expert because students have their own experiences that are part of the learning dynamics. With technology, LEP students can control and self-direct their learning and get immediate feedback. They no longer depend on direct teacher instruction, which often limits the student to passive listening and watching the teacher. While the direct teacher control is evidently lower in technology-based classrooms (e.g., a computer lab), the instruction is ever more demanding on the teacher. The teacher becomes a facilitator, rather than a "deliverer or transmitter of knowledge" (Padrón & Waxman, 1996, p. 348). Teachers scaffold their LEP students' learning experiences to build high-quality instruction. In a recent case study by Tiene and Luft (2002), they found that this type of environment creates a shift from "sage on the stage" to "guide on the side." One teacher in the study wrote, "I spent more time with my students learning than I did teaching them" (Tiene & Luft, 2002, p. 13).
Those who value technology as a resource to improve learning, and not just increase productivity, see the importance of changing the role of teachers, learners, and even the learning process itself. The transformation to student-centered classroom in education marks a new role for the teacher as a facilitator. As both teachers and facilitators, they help students construct their own meaning; technology provides them with new ways of teaching and enhancing learning opportunities for LEP students (Padrón & Waxman, 1996). The following are some activities using technology that are intended to support learner knowledge construction:
Defining Teacher Roles
Effective use of technology depends to a great extent on teachers. Some teachers continue to embed only classic technologies, such as the overhead, video, chalkboard, or TV (Anglin, 1991) in classrooms as a part of the everyday operation of schools. Such limited perception of technology is an incomplete picture and has clouded the true meaning of technology integration. Technology integration means more than simply using the overhead to display information, a computer to input grades, or using the Internet to do research. It is about using technology as a tool to enhance teaching, learning, and multisensory experiences, providing "a range of pathways for students at varying levels" (Ficklen & Muscara, 2001, p. 26).
Supported by the No Child Left Behind Act, training teachers how to use technology remains among the highest prioritized goals and concerns. The use of instructional technology offers great promise but also poses significant challenges. Such challenges include keeping up with technology innovations and evaluating technology for indicators of student success. Teachers need to be trained to use technology—they also must become competent enough to integrate technology efficiently, creatively, and confidently into their lessons:
Magali Williams, Dirksen Elementary School, Schaumburg School District #54, Schaumburg, Illinois, emphasizes the need for teachers to receive appropriate technology training.
Creating student-centered environments with computers invites innovative uses of technology. Technology Counts 2001, published by Education Week, reported that in 2000, 28 percent of teachers were in the beginning stage, 46 percent in the intermediate, 8 percent in the advanced, and 1 percent in the innovator category of technology users. Although fewer schools categorized a majority (50 percent or more) of their teachers as beginners than in previous years, few schools report a majority of their teachers are advanced or innovative technology users ("Technology Counts," 2001).Technology may be quite exciting when it is used skillfully and with a point, and when it provides LEP students "with another vehicle to construct meaning, to exercise critical thinking skills," (Krueger, 1998) to learn difficult concepts. But most of all, teachers have to be enthusiastic to learn various uses of technology that can benefit their culturally and linguistically diverse students (Tobiason, 1996).
Making Connections and Building Meaning
Visualization allows students to become active researchers and to comprehend many abstract concepts better. One of the advantages of using technology is the opportunity of providing visual context.
According to Cynthia Gomez, El Paso Sageland MicroSociety School teacher, Ysleta Independent School District, El Paso, the computer and the Internet make it easier for LEP students to collect information, such as temperature readings throughout the United States.
Visual additions help students to learn a concept and expand its important vocabulary. Additionally, curriculum supported through a multisensory approach of text, graphics, speech, and sounds are best suited for language learners. Animation software reinforces the visual appeal in the learning process of academic content. García (1999) investigated the effects of animation software and comic strip creation on bilingual (Spanish and English) children's learning processes and how the use of animation software "might contribute to the production of tight [close visual and verbal representation] science explanations by young children with emerging bilingual skills" (García, 1999, p. 2). He looked at the use of animation software that would build on LEP students' skills in learning both science and language simultaneously, and attempted to show how the design, creation, and revision of animated models can help a child tell a science story (García, 1999, Abstract). He cited Windschitl, who noted that animation software is helpful in LEP students learning the "representation processes that:
Besides providing a framework in which content learning can take place, technology can be intrinsically motivating so that simultaneous acquisition of concepts, as well as of the English language, can occur. LEP learners employ many ways to get themselves to the meaning of a subject. Children often translate for their monolingual parents, older siblings at home, and their classmates at school. Translation that is done spontaneously and with no previous preparation reflects a bilingual child's ability to enhance his or her "metalinguistic awareness and language proficiency" (Pease-Alvarez, 1993, pp. 1, 7). Translating also provides additional contact with ideas and concepts that can result in deeper meaning. In addition, student cultural diversity also needs to be included into activities so that concept developments and understandings make more sense to the learners. If they can apply what they already know and are familiar with in the classroom, it will ease their attempts to make meaning.
Depending on the LEP students' background and prior knowledge, some activities may not be equally appropriate for all students, yet opportunities should be available for them to take risks to explore technologies. Teachers need to understand the technical skills that LEP learners need in the real world, future academic careers, or even the workplace—especially children of migrant families who apply these skills immediately as they go through their daily lives and may not be ready to learn higher-level technology skills just yet. Tim Collins (2002), an assistant professor of language minority education at National-Louis University in Chicago, concentrates on developing the language of technology for ESL adult learners that is also very appropriate in K-12 schools settings. According to Collins (2002), teachers need to:
Educationally, the benefit of parental engagement is profound, as activities pursued by parents together with their children are found to definitely deepen children's ideas (Hall & Schaverien, 2001). A five-year long project initiated by R. Durán and J. Durán from University of California, Santa Barbara, recognizes the need of parents to engage in computer learning so that their computer skills are connected to children's educational outcomes. The project, entitled "Developing Immigrant Parents' Computer Learning in Partnership With Students' Learning," was designed to work with parents on developing materials and activities so that the parents acquire knowledge of the use of computers "as powerful tools for learning" (Durán & Durán, n.d., p.1). About a hundred parents of third- through fifth-grade LEP children participated; during the first year (1997), they learned word and graphics processing skills, using the programs Storybook Weaver®, the Bilingual Writing Center software, as well as the Internet. They wrote stories and narratives, conducted small-scale research projects, and published a newsletter. The overall goal was to determine effective ways to employ technology "as a means of joint parent-child learning" (Durán & Durán, n.d., p. 7).
Teachers also need to tie LEP students' cultural backgrounds into instruction. A number of multilingual Web and computer-based technologies are breaking the barrier to multilingual communication among schools, families, and students. For example, students, teachers, and parents can now use online translation services for words and paragraphs. Although online translation is not always accurate, it is a convenient tool for language learners. Teachers also can have their students participate in international collaborative projects and cross-cultural "e-mail pals" that are available online. This type of implementation can help LEP students—and English-speaking students as well—communicate and collaborate with other students across the globe. Students can learn about other cultures and share their folktales, stories, and games. Additional activities could be having LEP students use the Internet to explore their home countries in order to foster knowledge and respect for other cultures.
Teachers can also provide students with positive role models by bringing in people from various ethnic backgrounds to share their career experiences. Bringing in such resource persons from the community can pique students' interest and their willingness to seek advanced careers. Teachers can arrange field trips to various workplaces where technology is used in real-life settings. By seeing aspiring professionals in various fields, students will be able to see that technology is an integral part of any workplace. This opportunity to connect what students learn in the classroom with the real world is priceless.
Teaching and Learning With Technology: Performance Assessment
One area through which classroom teachers can broaden their understanding and use of "accountability assessment" measures is daily classroom activities that make use of activity-based "performance assessment" (LaCelle-Peterson & Rivera, 1994). Performance assessment activities can provide teachers with a tool for assessing student English proficiency, and they can be structured to allow multimodal assessment of progress. LaCelle-Paterson and Rivera (1994) developed a framework that encourages multimodal assessment and assessment strategies that encourage learner-centered control of the learning process. The framework contains the following elements:
As teachers plan for assessment during class activities, they need to combine formative and formal assessments aligned with local standards and benchmarks as well as other school reforms. It is important to ensure that the assessments used contain language that is neutral for the student (Romaine, 1995) and are appropriate in assessing the developmental stage at which the learner is currently engaged. It is also important to ensure that assessments are valid and reliable for the students, as their successful learning of language and abstract concepts may be obscured if these conditions are not met. Through the use of formative and informal assessments, teachers have the opportunity to give students "immediate feedback for self-correction and practice or rewards for accuracy are essential for language learning" (Bishop, 2001, p. 40). This type of feedback can be beneficial to LEP students in their comprehension of subject matter and language growth (Short, 2000b). It also allows teachers to encourage student success in a low anxiety environment removed from the pressures of formal assessments such as standardized tests and the writing of essays (Krashen, 1994). Both formal and informal assessments allow teachers to determine areas requiring improvement as students continue through their learning process.
Technology offers teachers a number of venues for using performance assessments with LEP learners. Student work that is identified as learning-centered performance assessments can be as simple as text with graphics or dialogue journals or as complex as individual multimedia learning portfolios. Technology provides multiple strategies for language learners to communicate their learning and understanding of content, as well as contextual knowledge. In computer-managed instruction there are supplemental technology programs designed for students new to learning English that emphasize vocabulary learning, phonetic awareness, and basic literacy skills and have been shown to be successful in assessing the learning outcomes of students (Taylor, 1999; Labov & Baker, 2001).
Each of these strategies using technology offers teachers the chance to gauge LEP students' mastery of linguistic and content knowledge over time. Through the use of the computer and such tools as electronic grade books and program support tools, teachers can generate charts and graphs that can be used to evaluate the overall success of their instruction and assessment techniques as well as determine areas for improvement. These strategies can be used in individual, paired, or group settings, reinforcing language skills, facilitating success, and enabling personal interaction among students who may feel isolated because of their language differences (Bishop, 2001).
It is important to remember that assessment strategies are best implemented holistically within the context of content learning activities with all learners from all cultural backgrounds. According to Taylor (1999), "Rather than pieces of alignment, a complete holistic system of curriculum, instruction, assessment, staff development, and materials is the ideal situation for improving student learning" (p. 14). Technology as one such component needs to be introduced into the learning process through a well-thought-out technology plan and adequate assessment.
In Schaumburg School District #54, technology supports every student in the district. Dr. Lynn Rauch, Superintendent, Schaumburg School District #54, Schaumburg, Illinois explains.
Without being adequately linked to curriculum, teaching strategies and instruction, as well as technology integration efforts, the assessments may not reveal learning needs or learning successes of LEP students.
Access and Equity
Inequities in the availability of high quality experience with computer technology and Internet access also persist. A special report by Education Week (2001), Technology Counts 2001 highlighted that in schools where fewer than 11 percent of students qualified for subsidized lunches, the percentage of classrooms with Internet access skyrocketed from 4 to 74 percent between 1994 and 1999. On the other hand, where at least 71 percent of students qualified for subsidized lunches, classroom Internet access rose from 2 to only 39 percent in that time ("Technology Counts," 2001). Some of the discrepancy between these groups can be attributed to the additional costs of establishing and supporting the required infrastructure in existing buildings. According to the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), retrofitting existing schools can be costly: "A study by McKinsey & Company, Inc. estimated that 65 percent of American schools were more than 35 years old and had not undergone a major renovation to support technology. The study projected that some of these schools would use wireless technology, but that would not be practical in every case" (CoSN, n.d., p. 1).
In addition to the disparity of Internet access and lack of infrastructure support, students in schools with predominantly minority enrollments are more likely to use their state-of-the-art technology for drill, practice, and test-taking skills ("Technology Counts," 2001). Meanwhile, white students in more affluent communities are creating Web sites and multimedia presentations ("Technology Counts," 2001). According to Herbert Kohl, the director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and Social Justice at the University of San Francisco, "'The computers become nothing much more than trivial workbook and control mechanisms for kids' in the heavily minority schools.'...'In other communities, they are instruments used toward the success and the futures of kids'" ("Technology Counts," 2001, "Racial Disparities" section).
El Paso, Texas, is one of such successful communities. In the El Paso area, where Texas, New Mexico, and the Mexican state of Chihuahua meet in a desert environment, many teachers are making great strides in creating opportunities for all students. The student population of the schools visited (see the video) is composed of at least 65 percent Hispanic, and 83 percent or higher are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The schools' accountability rating is either "recognized" or "exemplary," the two highest ratings by the state of Texas. To earn an exemplary rating at least 90 percent of the students must pass each subject area, and the recognized status requires at least 80 percent of the students to pass each subject area. The state also requires that subgroups, such as economically disadvantaged and minority, also have passing rates of 80 to 90 percent to earn the exemplary and recognized status (Texas Education Agency, 2002).
Another "island of excellence"—a much more affluent one, however, with only 6.3 percent low-income rate—is School District 54 in Schaumburg, Illinois, which has the largest number (22) of elementary schools in the state. It serves an increasingly diverse population of students who speak 61 different languages. The LEP population is 7 percent, based on the 2002 state district report card (Illinois State Board of Education, 2002). The district's language programs currently serve students from 26 different language groupings (Rauch, 1999). Data from 2002 also show that 34.9 percent of students are from diverse backgrounds (Illinois State Board of Education, 2002). The overall student performance based on state tests was 75.4 percent in 2002 (Illinois State Board of Education, 2002).
While there are many reasons for the academic success of the schools in El Paso and Schaumburg, educators attribute part of that success to technology. The El Paso teachers believe that technology is an equalizer in high poverty areas when it is used skillfully and in conjunction with other school reforms. Research, too, agrees that technology for LEP students is "a great equalizer" as its helps them "to not be handicapped by the fact that they're second language learners" (Smith, 1995, p. 36). LEP students, however, who see their academic content literacy at the stage where they are familiar with the terminology and are skillful in using textbooks, may find the language barrier is limiting applications of technology to their learning due to the English-only base of many technology learning programs. They also may find they have more experience working on isolated skills rather than engaging in real-world applications.
Technology Achievement Gap
Teachers in Schaumburg adapt software so that all students' needs may be met, according to Doris Reynolds, Facilitator for Foreign Language in the Elementary School Program/Teacher, Schaumburg School District #54, Schaumburg, Illinois.
Given the apparent benefits in both learning and teaching with technology, there may still be skeptics who see technology as another hassle. For those who question whether technology use is truly effective, Padrón and Waxman (1996) cite research findings on the LEP student dropout problem in the United States. They address a critical concern and state the imperative of educating LEP students through instructional technology. Technology use in the classroom, they believe—especially for higher-level applications—is one of the potential strategies to address the dropout issue and improve the teaching and learning of all LEP students. Research studies cited in their paper generally agree that technology is effective for LEP learners. Their findings and experts' opinion on the social and academic benefits for LEP learners lead to the conclusion that technology is "especially beneficial for ELLs [English language learners] because they are often disengaged from schools and they have generally experienced more failure than success in learning situations" (Padrón & Waxman, 1996, pp. 344-345). Therefore, educators have all the more reason to address effective technology integration for LEP students.
Teachers, Administrators, Policymakers
Teachers, Administrators, Policymakers
IMPLEMENTATION PITFALLS: As schools and various members of the school community establish goals and take action to successfully integrate technology that will accommodate the needs of all learners, the following are some challenges and problems that may arise in the process:
DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW: Although technology integration can be pivotal in and positively impact LEP students' learning process—in both the academic and workplace scenarios—arguments still emerge against the use of technology.
Some critics of the use of technology in schools raise a question about technology's physical and developmental effects upon students (such as posture and eye problems). According to Northwest Educational Technology Consortium (NETC), "As technology becomes a bigger part of children's lives, so does the need to pay attention to the health issues of using computers. Children need to be taught simple safety principles from the time they begin using computers" (NETC, 2002, p. 1).
The high equipment expenses associated with technology use has long been an issue of contention among educators and parents. Members of some communities question the focus of expenditures on technology at the expense of other student needs. They view financial support being reallocated from traditional materials and programs to buy new technologies. Those school districts that do have sufficient access to technology should make the most of it. Quality software with bilingual support is a great way to supplement skill development activities for LEP students. Most textbooks today come with CD-ROMs attached to them in the form of an electronic book or workbook, or the actual textbook content; there is also individual software that parallels texts in more than one language. Having curriculum knowledge in digital form allows teachers of LEP students and their students to modify information as needed to meet individual learning needs.
Some educators view additional teacher preparation for technology use as unnecessary because of their opposition to using technology to support LEP student learning as a means to improve that learning. Or they may feel that technology can only be effective in some academic areas, but not the others. Some parents and community members do not believe schools should allocate time and money for teachers to receive professional development in technology; technology training should be on teachers' own time and with their own resources. However, using technology effectively is no longer optional for all teachers; in fact, it is a requirement within the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB, 2002).
Date posted: June 24, 2003
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