Walk into any secondary English Language Arts and Reading classroom and odds are that you will see technology in some form. Whether it’s a full one-to-one integration or simply a projector aimed at a wall, English classrooms are no longer oriented to just paper and pencil.
Education has shifted away from a focus on simply learning to read and write. 21st century skills are now indelibly interwoven within every subject and every aspect of students’ lives. The advancements in technology over the past 100 years have had a far-reaching effect on the way we teach and learn, and as a result, the English classroom of the 21st century looks entirely different than the English classroom of the 19th and 20th centuries.
This literature review attempts to provide an overview of the current research and discussion regarding educational technology in the ELAR classroom, provide suggestions for further research based on gaps in the current research, and discuss implications of the research on current and future teaching practices and research.
Teachers of English have an even higher responsibility to integrate technology into the classroom that other subject teachers, as technology is interwoven with many state standards for English (Hutchison & Colwell, 2014). 21st century literacies are becoming more and more entwined with traditional literacies. Literacy is now making meaning from all kinds of texts, no longer just print (Haiken, 2017; Hughes, 2009). The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) released a Framework for 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment (2013) stating that the increase in technology has also increased the “intensity and complexity of literate environments” (n.p.). Instead of creating a separate strand, the Common Core State Standards integrate the use of digital technologies into the ELA standards (Hutchison & Colwell, 2014). Middle school students in Texas are required in the new Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for English Language Arts and Reading (2017) to “produce a multimedia presentation […] using available technology” as well as “use reference aids such as a glossary, dictionary, thesaurus, and available technology to determine meanings and pronunciations” (Texas Education Agency, n.p.). Additionally, high school students in Texas are required to “produce research projects […] using available technology” (Texas Education Agency, 2008, n.p.). English teachers today are suddenly finding themselves responsible for teaching these new 21st century literacies on top of the traditional literacies. Therefore, it is imperative that teachers of English are aware of the reasoning and benefits of integrating technology into their classrooms, as well as the best methods to do so.
As in life, the people behind the technology are the most important. Therefore, this literature review seeks to first look at the human aspects of integrating technology; first by looking at the importance of the teacher, and second by looking at the impacts for the students. This is followed by an overview of the different types of technologies presently being used and studied in ELAR classrooms. Finally, implications for current teaching and future research are discussed in the concluding remarks.