As computers become increasingly more commonplace in the workplace and households, vast amounts of information have become available in a variety of ways. The accessibility and connectivity computers offer create a plethora of possibilities. Because of the numerous advantages and opportunities, these advancements have made their way into the educational system. Just as computers have transformed the daily lives of individuals and businesses, they have renovated, reinvented and revolutionized traditional education and its systems.
According to Brewer (2003), “over the last dozen years, local and federal governments and private organizations have made tremendous investments in bringing computers and technology into the classroom at all levels of the educational enterprise” (p. 657). However, many argue that despite the great financial investment to place technology in the classroom, it is often “oversold and underused” (Cuban as cited in Brewer, 2003, p. 657). Due to the fact that many educators do not utilize these technologies within their classrooms, observers have begun to question the investment in a resource that is not changing the face of education (Morrison & Lowther, n.d.). In an effort to combat these arguments instructional models have been developed to assist educators with the integration of technology in the classroom.
One such model is the NTeQ model which promotes the use of computers as tools rather than a replacement for either the teacher or practice drills (Morrison & Lowther, 2005). This model was designed to assist educators in teaching “students how to use a computer as a tool and [encourage] higher-level thinking and processing” (Morrison & Lowther, 2005, para. 20). Despite the numerous benefits of the NTeQ model, there are deficits that educators must overcome when creating lesson plans from this model.
One identified problem with the NTeQ format centers on availability and consistency. Often, classrooms do not have computers to support homogeneous use. This lack of consistency can lead to confusion for students when it is used, often creating a need for teachers to take extra time to revisit skills, or review existing practices. In addition, the NTeQ format relies heavily on computer use during a lesson plan; the computer is at the center of the plan and all activities revolve around the use of that computer. If for any reason computers become unavailable, such as power outages or an inability to access a computer lab, the entire lesson would have to be discarded or postponed.
To counter this issue, educators should schedule lessons based on the NTeQ model consistently throughout the year. Ensuring that students have continued exposure and access to computers will allow the technology to become a tool that repeatedly assists students in learning. Additionally, teachers who are unable to ensure that computers will continually be available when needed, should include the computer as one of the objective components in the lesson and create alternatives for its use when it becomes necessary. This will ensure that regardless of computer availability, the instructional objectives will still be met and the students will still be prepared to move on to the next objective for that school year.
Another identified concern with the NTeQ model is that it has numerous steps for the educator to complete, many of which create unnecessary work. Time is a valuable commodity for educators, who must ensure that their lesson plans are efficient and effective. The amount of work required to create an NTeQ lesson plan could discourage many teachers from attempting it; especially considering that most teachers must work to balance their work and personal lives. A potential solution for this area of difficulty would be to reformat the model and combine steps so that the process becomes less daunting and more user-friendly. An example of step combining would be to merge activities before, during and after computer use into one step. Reducing the ten steps to seven may counter the perception that the NTeQ model is too long to use realistically.
The last identified concern with the model is that some of the individual steps within the model are vague and do not mandate the formation of higher-order thinking skills. The ability to think critically is of utmost importance for students. This is especially true in regard to high-stakes, standardized tests. For the steps of the model to be truly effective, they must be restructured so that higher-order thinking questions and activities are mandated within the format. Many of the steps in the NTeQ model only state a brief description of what actually occurs during that time. The lesson plans need to include expanded activities and descriptions. Rubrics, step-by-step descriptions of activities, follow-up activities, and modifications should be included to assist teachers when implementing these lessons. When teachers write the lesson plans, the writer needs match tasks to functions. If the task is to analyze the information, than the writer must match it with a function such as creating a spreadsheet. When the writer has to gather data, they also must carefully explain how the data will be manipulated, such as creating a graph (Morrison & Lowther, 2005). By creating the necessity for this in the plan template, the assurance that students are incorporating the higher order thinking skills that are so needed for them to achieve in today’s classroom. While there are areas for improvement in the NTeQ model, it offers a good beginning framework for including technology in the classroom and offers a comprehensive tool for teachers to use. Education needs to continue to strive for technology integration. The advantages of utilizing technology properly can benefit classrooms as it does businesses and individuals. It can provide numerous opportunities to students and teachers alike. Furthermore, it can allow students to work together and build a strong foundation in teamwork and social interfacing that will benefit them professionally, personally and academically. Like any new idea, once the 'kinks' are worked out, NTeQ can and will to greatly impact education.
Brewer, C. (n.d.). Computers in the classroom: How information technology can improve conservation education. Conservation Biology, Pages 657–660 Volume 17, No. 3, June 2003 http://www.bioed.org/pubs/Con_Bio_Article.pdf Morrison, G. & Lowther, D. (n.d.) NTeQ: Integrating computer technology into the classroom. Retrieved from http://www.nteq.com/?p=preface. Morrison, G. & Lowther, D. (2005) Integrating computer technology into the classroom 3e. Retrieved from https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/content/eBookLibrary2/content/TOC. aspx?assetdataid=d1e6f3ae-f3a1-48d7-b0a6-baf50ffcc546&assetmetaid=57e1c677- 07c4-41f8-8b3e-f3111d1641b4