Posted in 1.3 Instructional Strategies, 2.4 Integrated Technologies, 3.3 Implementation and Institutionalization, DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT, UTILIZATION

Relative Advantage of Using Technology to Enhance Content Area Learning

Optimal technology integration can play a huge role in increasing student engagement, support, and parent involvement, differentiating learning, class management, simplifying planning and collaborations, and promoting continual professional development.  While many technologies have been designed specifically to streamline learning management, other technologies enhance learning in specific content area.  This is the focus of this post. TPACK planning strategy is a method to design instruction that takes into account technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge.  In sections below, we’ll look at the relative advantage of incorporating various tools to teach specific skills in Language Arts.


Language skills: vocabulary, decoding/phonics, fluency, comprehension.

The advantage to using technology to teach these skills ranges from increased motivation and scaffolding to individualized instruction and feedback.  Specifically, technology provides additional support that typically isn’t available with unless the teacher is working directly with the student or in small groups Roblyer & Doering (2010).  These tools support students to have successful reading experiences by making reading more engaging, encourage the active use of comprehension strategies, and provide learning opportunities within the context of meaningful texts.

Vocabulary Tools

  • interactive vocabulary lessons
  • online dictionaries, thesauri, and encyclopedias, with speech capabilities
  • online texts with hyperlinks that give students definitions of words
  • websites, discussions, online publishing, web logs, and other technology-increase the amount time students spend reading and writing

Decoding/Phonics Tools

  • matching sounds/letters, spoken/written words, or adding letters to complete a word
  • game contexts, visual presentations, and exciting stories to engage and hold interest
  • software that individualizes learning by tracking progress, providing repetition, altering speed of speech, and giving immediate feedback
  • texts with scaffolds to support phonic skills (click words to hear the individual sounds or whole words)
  • individualize stories that focus on the letter-sound correspondences and words that the student has not yet mastered

Fluency Tools

  • model fluent oral reading
  • automated help in decoding individual words
  • highlighted phrases to guide expressive reading
  • pronunciation and meaning support, allowing beginners to attempt more challenging text on their own
  • speech recognition tools that offer immediate help while reading aloud
  • recording and analysis tools to help assess students’ levels of fluency and inform instructional decisions.

Comprehension Tools

  • hypertext/hypermedia to scaffold comprehension including clarifications, summaries, concept maps, and thinking questions
  • embedded prompts that ask students to answer questions, add to concept maps or other graphic organizers, or summarize information
  • active reading prompting students to read words aloud, provide definitions, explain concepts in texts, and provide visual aids.

Literacy Development:

Technology can be used to increase literacy development by matching students with text that fits their reading interests and level, connecting students with real-life reading opportunities, building broader connections around stories, and offering unique chances for students to reflect and share their thoughts (Sherman et al 2004).  The primary advantage to implementing technology for literacy development is that it creates authentic opportunities for students to use their literacy skills.  Students need to understand technology use in professional or formal settings.

Literacy Development Tools

  • Online reading materials: ebooks, news, discussion boards, how-to, pop-culture, fiction/non-fiction stories
  • interactive story books: talking/electronic books, highlighter/notetaking functions, hypermedia links
  • digital story telling including computer-based images, text, recorded audio narration, video clips and/or music.
  • blog chronicling or journal writing
  • video projects that include concepting, script-writing, editing, rewriting, story-boarding, and filming
  • Collaborative literacy projects with writers or other professionals, other schools/grade levels, and people in other cultures
  • Discussion boards, instant messaging, microbloging, emailing, vlogs, wall-posts, crowd sourcing

Writing Process:

If you’ve written anything of any length by hand lately, you probably remember how difficult it is to do any major editing without starting over from scratch.  Today’s digital writing process allows students to easily play with words, revise sentence structures, reorder events, collaborate, and experiment with different publishing options.  Word processing tools developed out of writers’ needs rather than a fun computer tool (Kunde 1986).  By 1977 with the advent of the floppy disk, word processing was separated to from computer hardward and is now “one of the most common general applications for personal computers.” (Blissmer 1985)

Writing Process Tools

  • story generators including setting, characters, plot, solution
  • brainstorming graphic organizers, concept mapping, electronic outliners
  • word processing to edit, spell check, reorder text, and check grammar
  • desktop publishing including newspapers, brochures, books, booklets
  • web publishing including blogs and web sites


Blissmer, Robert H. (1985). An introduction to information systems 1985-1986. Computer Annual.  New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Kunde, B. (2008). A brief history of word processing (through 1986). Redwood City: Fleabonnet Press. Retrieved from

Roblyer, M.D, & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Sherman, D. & Kleiman, G. & Peterson, K. (2004). Technology and teaching children to read:  what does the research have to say? Education Development Center, Inc. Retrieved from



Instructional Technology Coach. Mother. Life Long Learner.

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