The use of technology is embedded in the classroom. The unspoken promise of technology in the classroom is that it enables students to learn better, easier and more than they did in an era without technology and it also facilitates the work of the teacher. However, if we consider, for example, the use of search technology, it is noticeable that this promise is rarely, if at all, fulfilled. In any case, it is more complex than first assumed. Technology allows both teachers and students to access the rich set of up-to-date multimedia resources that can support their knowledge acquisition process. Yet, for information retrieval technology (i.e., search tools such as Google) there is still an enormous gap between users’ information needs and access to resources that satisfy them. We argue that while the use of these tools is seamlessly integrated in the daily lives of students and teachers, when it comes to classroom use, it needs a lot of adjustment and in-depth studies.
The main objective of this paper is to outline how technology is, but more importantly, could be used in the classroom with a specific focus on the four elements of study we encountered in our earlier explorations:
(1) the need to adjust the curriculum;
(2) re-definition of the role of the teacher;
(3) the importance of cooperation and support among the students when using search technology; and
(4) the complexity of constant introduction of new (search) technology.
Our methodology consists of conducting an in-depth analysis of existing literature based on the aforementioned four points as well as contextualizing lesson learned from recent studies we conducted in primary schools of two European countries.
The results of our analysis are assembled in a road map pointing out the steps, skills, roles and shifts necessary to achieve an effective use of technology in a school context. These take-aways include the need for developing curriculum dedicated explicitly to media literacy with specific emphasis on search literacy, addressing the constant introduction of new search technology (e.g., vocal assistants, robots, and specific educational tools), fostering cooperation and support with peers when children use search systems, and promoting the fact that teachers can and should play a crucial role as intermediaries for, and curators of, this technology in the classroom ecosystem, as well as describing the kind of support teachers, students, and technology should provide so that the promise of search technology in an educational setting comes true.
Our considerations pave the way for the definition of a stronger and more articulated support to the search element inside the existent media literacy curriculum. This in turn will support students across their educational path and equip them with a solid foundation for dealing with the development of 21 century skills such as computational thinking and the plethora of novel interactions they will encounter in their future search experiences. We argue that by learning how to search students develop and consolidate critical and logical skills essential for their future as life-long learners.