Slates, books, pencils, mimeographs, tape recorders, overheads, calculators . . . these are all tools that have been used in schools over the years. Today’s technologies – interactive white boards, sensors and probes, document cameras, mobile devices and tablets – to name a few – are also tools that can be used in schools. Technology Integration isn’t about the technology, it is about teaching and learning. We know, in our roles as educators, that a primary goal is to help students reach learning objectives set before them. Just as we do not use a book or ruler or beaker in every lesson, we wouldn’t use technology in every lesson. Technology for the sake of technology is, pedagogically, a bad idea. However, there are numerous ways in which we can use technology tools to improve or enhance teacher productivity, lesson delivery, student access to curriculum, student engagement with learning activities, student demonstration of their understandings, and teacher feedback, assessment, and reporting. Never before has the need for technology integration in our classrooms been so important. We are living in a world in which the pace of technological innovation is unparalleled in our history. Our students are headed into a future that we cannot even imagine. Part of our responsibility as 21st century educators is to prepare students with the skills and strategies necessary to ensure their success in a digital world.
When I began my teaching career, I shared one Apple IIe computer, that resided on a cart with a dot matrix printer, with four colleagues. The technology has certainly changed, and I find it mind boggling that many students bring to school a device that fits in the palm of their hands with far greater power than that Apple IIe. What hasn’t changed is my belief that the use of technology as a tool in learning has the power to transform teaching and learning in ways that can move us from an Agricultural/Industrial model of educating to a model that truly engages and prepares our students for the future.
The task of integrating technology can seem overwhelming. More and more demands are being placed on teachers, and using technology can easily be viewed as an “add-on” to what already has to be done in the classroom. Often times, the add-on approach results in “technology for the sake of technology” experiences in the classroom. There is a wonderful framework being widely referenced in Instructional Technology circles called the SAMR Model (Substitution – Augmentation – Modification – Redefinition). This model purports that teachers often progress along a continuum as they adopt and integrate technology in the classroom. It is overwhelming to think about reaching the Redefinition stage (using technology in ways that were previously inconceivable), and not always appropriate for tasks to reach this level. However, starting small, by re-envisioning a lesson that you are seeking to revise anyway, presents a great opportunity to think about how the plethora of technology tools available might replace existing tasks and activities to help students achieve lesson objectives.
In my role as an Instructional Technology Specialist, I seek to collaborate with classroom teachers as content experts. I believe this collaboration must center upon crafting learning opportunities that include meaningful and seamless uses of technology, by teachers and students, as components of a lesson or unit. I believe the goal of technology integration should be on supporting students as they work towards meeting learning objectives. I am looking forward to supporting technology integration at MHS by collaborating with classroom teachers through consultation about ideas, through 1:1 and small group training sessions, through co-teaching in classrooms, and through sharing ideas and resources in this blog.