21st Century Technology Classrooms

May 19, 2015
CJ Cannizzaro

Effective Education Technology Integration: 21st Century Classrooms


21st centuryTo integrate means to combine parts to create whole.  For most of today’s learners, one of these crucial parts is technology.  Marc Prensky redefines these learners as “digital natives.”

Our students today are all “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet.”  (Prensky, 2001)


More recently, this 21st century generation of learners are being identified as millennials.

In a nutshell, students in the 21st Century are the most tech savvy generation — comfortable with their laptops, tablets and gaming devices — so why not employ this technology as a teaching tool?

Characteristics of Millennials

  • They like to be in control – they prefer to use technology at any time — day or night
  • They like choice – they use technology to complete tasks in new and creative ways
  • They are group-oriented and social – they are constantly networking and are highly collaborative
  • They think differently – they readily accept technology, adapt it and use it to find what they need

For these students learning must be relevant — it means more when they understand the practical applications for the information they receive. Content must be specific, concise and fast — they are hungry for information and will search for it on their own if teachers do not deliver what they perceive to be relevant. With so much information being constantly available they do not feel they need to learn everything immediately — but prefer to be taught how and where to find what they need when they need it.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills specifically identifies three key elements that this generation will need to be successful in a global workforce:

  • Information Literacy – access information efficiently and effectively; evaluate information critically and competently; use information accurately and creatively
  • Media Literacy – understand why media messages are constructed and how they can influence beliefs; understand and utilize the most appropriate media creation tools
  • ICT (Information and Communication Technology) Literacy – use technology as a tool to research, organize, evaluate and communicate information; use digital technologies to access, manage, integrate, evaluate and create information to successfully function in a knowledge-based economy


The 21st Century Educator

  • The NEA (National Education Association) characterizes these educators as “more educated and experienced than teachers of the past”
  • They are becoming more comfortable with the transformation of their classrooms and strive to improve their lessons and teaching strategies through education technology integration
  • They require support and ample planning time including quality professional development training in educational technology to keep pace with their students


In order to design 21st century learning environments to meet the needs of 21st century learners we need to cultivate a new awareness for 21st century educators — through professional development and training.  Teachers must have access to anywhere, anytime learning opportunities to keep them “in tune” with the way today’s students learn, including the rapidly evolving technologies of game-based learning, interactive online assessments and active engagement strategies that meet the needs of a more and more diverse culture of learners.

CJ is a certified professional educator with a MS in Instructional Technology. With over 25 years in education she is a consultant  to educational textbook publishers, school districts and corporations. As a professional development and training specialist  she was a major contributor to the CPALMS project, as well as a designer and facilitator for the Florida PROMiSE Grant Initiative.  She has written professional development courses to integrate technology in the classroom and collaborated with school districts  on Common Core for Math grades K-8. Originally a NJ native, she now resides in Florida where she continues to share her teaching strategies and educational technology ideas.