Tag Archives: Educactional Technology

5 Essential Elements for Successful Tech Integration

In my last post I discussed a model of responsibility for teaching technology outcomes such as the ISTE NETs or Journey On.  Central to this model was that it should be a team approach with all teachers using technology as a tool within their classroom student’s with the help of a technology guide to oversee and monitor the process.   While this sounds good in theory, the successful integration of technology requires considerable planning and support.

There are several tools available to help teachers evaluate their use of technology, including the SAMR and TPACK models.  However, if a school wants technology to be fully integrated across curricular areas there needs to more support provided than simply handing teachers a sheet and asking them to evaluate themselves and their use of technology in the classroom.  There are five things that I see as necessary for successful cross curricular technological integration:

There needs to be someone guiding both teachers and students in their use of technology in the classroom.

Technology Guide

The technology guide or technology facilitator is responsible for the overall integration of technology within the school.  They ensure that all technology outcomes are being met and are suitable for the students.  The technology guide also provides support and training for teachers and students when needed on topics including how to operate specific programs, assessment, digital citizenship, technology integration, and Internet safety.  They should also seek out new technologies and evaluate their usefulness in metting the aims of the school’s technology plan.

Continual training is essential to ensure that skills and knowledge are current.


Teachers need training in integrating technology.  This can be done by the technology guide mentor, outside presenters or other teachers.  However, topics need to be evaluated to ensure that they meet the aims of the school.

Successful technology integration does not happen overnight. People need time to learn, try new things and plan.


Time needs to be allowed for integration to happen at a pace that does not overwhelm teacher. Time needs to be allowed for integration to happen at a pace that does not overwhelm teachers.Teachers also need time to plan collaboratively with the tech mentor and other teachers to brainstorm ideas and create plans.

There needs to be freedom for teacher when integrating technology. Recognize that there will be both successes and failures. Celebrate and learn from both


When integrating technology teachers need to feel that it is okay to make mistakes and learn from them.  Teachers will be resistant to try new things when they are in an environment that will punish them for making a mistake.

There needs to be a plan in place otherwise nothing will be accomplished.


Teachers need a plan.  They need to know what the outcomes, who is responsible for which outcome, what the aims are for the school, what they achievement looks like, and what is expected of them.  This is probably the most crucial element, as without a clear and concise plan technology integration will fail.

A technology guide, training, time, freedom, and a plan are my five essential elements for successful technology integration into a school’s curriculum.  Admittedly it seems easy, however, in order to build a strong program that can continue to evolve there needs to be a lot of work put in.  What do you think are essential elements to ensure successful integration of technology in the classroom?

Image Credits

Tour Guide by andyaldridge found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed

Blogging Course for Teachers by Ikhlasul Amal found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed

The Passage of Time by ToniVC found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed

Embracing Beauteousness by Martin Gommel found on Flickr Creative Commons Licensed

Swooshable Planning by Bohman found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed



Filed under Uncategorized

Who is Responsible for Technology Education?

Some of my earliest experiences with a computer were in labs just like this one.

Over the past week I have been doing a lot of thinking about technology and how it is used within the classroom.  When I was first exposed to computers in school, it was clear that there was a set computer time for learning basic skills. As technology has evolved schools are being forced to redefine how they wish technology to be used within the classroom and teacher responsibility.

Defining the Role of Technology:

Before considering how ICT outcomes should be assessed or who is responsible, a school must first come to an agreement on what the desired role for ICT is in the school.  In his article What Difference Might and “S” Make? David Warlick debates whether teachers should be teaching computer applications (a set list of specific programs with specific targets) or computer application (the use and manipulation of computers in order to solve problems).   The difference may seem subtle but has an immense impact on the way the school assesses the use of technology by students.

The ISTE NETS provides a framework for schools and teachers who would like their students to follow a computer application model.  If we follow the ITSE NETS and the computer application model, then the use of technology no longer becomes limited to a specific class but instead can be used across all areas and become a natural extension to the teaching and learning process.  However, I still believe that there needs to be a balance between learning how a set list of specific skills/programs and learning how to manipulate a variety of different programs. One must also keep in mind that some students will benefit from explicit instruction of new programs but others learn best through their own experimentation.  But who might responsible for technology education in this model?

Who is responsible?

In short everyone needs to be responsible for technology education.  There needs to be a balance between having a class to learn a specific program and allowing technology integration across all curricular areas.  For example a teacher may need to set aside a specific class to teach students how to use a specific program, application, or skill.  However, many of the programs, applications, and skills that are being taught can be used in a variety of curricular areas.   For example if I teach my students how to make a movie and export it, another subject teacher could easily make use of this skill within their class. Thus allowing technology to become a natural part of the learning experience that is no longer just reserved for technology classes.  For this to work effective communication, collaboration, and an educational technology expert who can help all parties see the big picture with the students are necessary.

In order for technology integration to work, there needs to be someone guiding all parties.

Technology Guide

In my ideal world the technology guide would work with teachers across grade levels and subjects to ensure that students are provided opportunities to meet the ISTE NETs, as well as ensuring that technology is viewed as a tool to help students learn and to create in a variety of settings.   The technology guide would help teachers learn new technologies as well assist them with creating age appropriate learning experiences and assessments.  The technology guide would also monitor overall implementation of the ISTE NETs through curriculum mapping of the overall program and records from their own classes.

In this post I discussed the idea that everyone needs to be responsible for teaching technology outcomes, whether they are the ISTE NETs or another curriculum (Journey On is the curriculum guide at my current school).  In my next post I will provide some practical ideas to help schools ensure that students are meeting technology outcomes within an integrated model.

Image Credits:

Students Working on class assignment in computer lab by Extra Ketchup found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed

Two equestrian riders, girls on horseback, in low tide reflections on serene Morro Strand Straight Beach by mikebaird found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed

Video Credits:

ISTE CEO Don Knezek Discusses the NETs uploaded onto YouTube by istevideos


Filed under COETAIL, Course 4

Multimedia, NGO’s and Tears

Using multimedia can be a useful method of engaging with important causes and issues.

The grade 6 classes have just finished looking into various NGOs/NPOs in our Sharing the Planet unit.  As a final task, the students had to create a multimedia campaign to create awareness for their chosen organization.  As an added bonus, my teaching partner and I decided that we would award the winning group 5000 yen to donate to their cause.  As I thought about the final project for COETAIL Course 3 I decided to use this exercise as a starting point.

In the end, the UbD planner that I created (located after the image and video credits), reflects much of what the students were able to accomplish in a week, with suggestions for activities, exercises, and resources that I feel could strengthen the experience.  As I typed out this project I had to consider which format would suit this idea best: UbD or the IB PYP planner.  In the end I chose the UbD planner because I felt that this project could fit with multiple IB PYP transdisciplinary themes.  By putting it in the UbD format it will make transferring this work between different UOI’s easier for me and anyone else who would like to try a similar project.

As the project unfolded the students worked incredibly hard on their presentations.  My teaching partner and I were both impressed with the depth of the knowledge gained by the children in terms of presentation skills, technological skills, and the work of NGOs/NPOs.  As students created their presentation each chose methods which best suited their comfort levels.  Some made posters that immediately drew my eye, others made brochures, but two students stood out for me in terms of how they blurred technology with visual impact to create pieces that brought this teacher to tears.

One student in my class is extremely intuitive when it comes to visuals.  As he works, he will typically come up to me only to ask permission to use something or if he needs help manipulating the technology in a way that works for him.  For this particular assignment he took some pictures he found online and combined them in iMovie, added a musical track he made in Garage Band, and when he presented it, he gave a speech.  The end effect was incredibly moving and demonstrated a deep understanding of the power of using multimedia to convey his message.

A student from my teaching partner’s class went above and beyond anything I was expecting.  Like many students, she incorporated a movie that she made.  As I watched the movie, I was brought to tears.  It contained everything I had hoped for; facts, emotional impact, and a plea for an NGO/NPO.  I was so impressed that I asked if I could put it up on YouTube.  As I spoke to the parents, they were very grateful and appreciated the fact that I asked for permission.  The video is included below edited with permission to include the original composition mentioned above.

After the students had seen each the work of their classmates, we asked them to discuss what they learned about presentations, multimedia, projects, and technology:

  1. Test your technology to make sure it works.
  2. Don’t read from your notes.
  3. Look your audience in the eye.
  4. Pictures can have a strong impact on emotion.
  5. Music can evoke strong emotions within people.
  6. The text you put up on a slide should be minimal.
  7. Having a personal connection with the cause can make your presentation more powerful.

As the projects completed were completed, I think back on the experience and what I have learned or ideas that have been reinforced from my students during this short week:

  1. Even in a short amount of time students can produce amazing work.
  2. Given an environment where they feel safe taking risks with their work, students will surprise you.
  3. Simply by allowing the students to play with technology, they are able to create meaningful pieces of work.
  4. Students are much more creative and attune to the importance of visuals then I was at their age.
  5. Something extremely simple can sometimes be the best piece of work.

Photo Credits:

Global Player by alles-schlumpf found on Flickr, Creative Commons License

Video Credits:

Summative Assessment found on YouTube uploaded by Brendan Lea


1 Comment

Filed under COETAIL, Course 3, IB PYP, Uncategorized

Usage Agreements

Copyright is confusing but Creative Commons helps

When I first started thinking about what I wanted to do for my second COETAIL project, ideas were swarming in my head and I was having difficulty nailing down what I wanted to do.  Sean Thompson approached me one day and asked if I would like to work with him on creating an online usage policy.  I immediately agreed because the idea was one I was thinking about and Sean and I have had some great tech conversations.  We began exchanging our ideas back and forth via e-mail and had a wonderful meeting at my house to hammer out the project.

We decided we wanted to create a web site where schools could send their teachers and students to view resources, complete activities, and in the end feel comfortable enough to begin drafting their own policies.  Early in the creation process Sean and I determined that our main focus should be creating sample policies for students and teachers.  We discussed it and decided he would work on the student policy and I would focus on the policy for teachers.

Privacy is a concern for me

As I sat down to create the online usage policy for teachers, I kept thinking about the articles I have read, videos I’ve seen, and issues that have been brought up in class.  Creative Commons and Copyright popped to the forefront of my mind, as did cyberbullying, privacy students, and age of consent for web site memberships.  The issues chosen were ones that I felt were the most important and I doubt I’ve touched on them all.  I also did not want it to be too long or technically worded.  Finally I wanted my document to come across as supportive and understanding that teachers may make mistakes and may need help with certain things.

I had two different options when creating the actual form.  At first I created the form using Weebly’s own form generator.  However, during our COETAIL meeting misternorris showed me how Google Forms records their results. the easiest way to determine the differences is to compare them side by side.

Bullying is an issue that has gotten a lot of attention lately

Weebly Google Forms
Variety of response types Yes Yes
Specific name field Yes No (but you can create it)
Mandatory question option Yes Yes
Variety of themes No Yes
E-mail form results No Yes
Easily accessible spreadsheet of results No (only accessible when it editing mode of that cell) Yes

For my personal use I want to keep this agreement in mind when I’m using the Internet and Social Media within my class.  I would also love to conduct a session with teachers and students to talk about these issues and facilitate a conversation as they create their own usage agreement.

Please feel free to go to the Acceptable Usage Agreement Teacher Assistant and have a look.

Image Credits:

All Images created using Wordle and text from my past posts.


Filed under COETAIL

Modifying a Unit

Over the past few weeks I have been mulling over how I could incorporate more technology into one of my PYP units of inquiry.  I decided to modify one that is already in existence within the Grade 6 POI at my school that deals with media.  I felt that this was an appropriate topic that could allow for some interesting conversations and products. However, before I delve into the subject matter, perhaps I should explain the structure of my planner.

The Nuts and Bolts

The IB PYP planner is standard at all schools that offer the programme.  All planners contain have the same basic format and information, however, each school implements the actual method and formatting in a different way.  Therefore the type of information will always be in the same place, but the manner in which it is presented can be different.   For example, the summative assessment task (located in box 1) is broken down in a similar manner as a UbD planner, though I have chosen to use the wording at my school simply for the sake of being able to implement it.  Box 4 includes all the different activities that could be done throughout this unit with letters at the end of each statement.   The letters each relate to a transdiciplinary skill that is required and developed during the process of that activity.   Also at the end of box 1 I ran out of room and thus had to continue in box 9.  I chose to leave boxes 6, 7, and 8 blank as they pertain to reflection on the unit and I have not actually taught this particular unit before.  Finally, I do apologize for the font size but it had to be done to ensure that the planner met the IB guidelines.

The Meat

The central idea of the unit encourages students to explore the manipulative nature of the media.  As I pondered how I could tweak the unit to include more technology, I kept thinking of the show Dragon’s Den.  The show is essentially an opportunity for independent business people to impress four big investors and to convince them to invest in the product being presented.  I thought that this was a wonderful framework to hook the students and one that would have them demonstrating their understanding of the central idea.  Essentially each group of students creates a pitch for a group of investors (the rest of the class), with the goal of convincing them to invest in the product by using the tricks of the media.  Their presentation to the investors can include a varied array of different technology tools to help them.  For example Excel (for graphing product research information), video (to provide a hook for the investors or sample marketing campaign), and PowerPoint (to create their presentation), Word (to create leaflets of information), and iMovie (to create commercials).

After awhile, I began to think of other ways that technology could be used in the unit.  As it began to take shape, I became more confident with the unit and the tasks that it presents.  However, I was aware that I needed to include both a novel study within the unit and math.  It is easy for me to authentically integrate math inquiry in this unit, both with subject and the use of technology.  However, I have difficulty seeing how a traditional novel study can be revitalized using technology.

 Thinking About Implementation


As I think about implementing this unit of work I can foresee several difficulties:

  1. There could be potential copyright issues if a piece of student work that criticizes or analyzes an ad is put within a public forum.
  2. How much technology is too much for one unit?  At what point have I crossed the line between teaching big ideas and instead am focusing on teaching students the latest new way of representing?
  3. The students all have various levels of technological competence.  I need to find a way to balance groups so that there is a balance of abilities amongst them.

 Final Comment

Overall I am excited about this unit and the summative assessment.  Judging by the enthusiasm that the students showed for their assembly, they love when they get the chance to use technology and hopefully this unit will encourage them to develop their skills.  I’m also looking forward to hearing suggestions on how I could improve my units both in terms of the technology and the content.

COETAIL Project1

Image Credits:

Pipe joint nut & bolt by hartlandmartin on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed

Thinking by Brendan Lea on Instagram

Video Credit:

Dragon’s Den – What a Bloom uploaded by kaynada found on YouTube


Filed under COETAIL, Course 1

Starting to Share

As I read the article “Shaping Tech for the Classroom,” I could not help but feel that Marc Prensky was writing a war cry for continued evolution of technology in the classroom.  The article attempts to encourage others to continue to support technology in the classroom, however the author hinders his argument with the way he describes teachers and administrators. While I agree with Prensky that education needs to change, to resort to name calling with those who are resistant does nothing to help support his cause.

I believe that Prensky’s article and “Living and Learning with New Media” both convey the same message: educators and administers need to learn how to integrate technology successfully by modifying how they approach their teaching.  This is of course on top of all the other demands that are already placed on educators.  One key component that the COTAIL program and the workshops The Networked Educator and Create the Future keep reinforcing is that in order make the integration of new technology less daunting and (hopefully) easier for everyone, we need to learn to share with each other.

While I feel nervous about sharing my work, I know that I must do so that I can continue to learn from others and others can learn from both my successes and failures.   It is in this light that I share with you some of my success and some of my failures with using technology in the classroom:


Last year I created a VoiceThread account for my students.  VoiceThread allows users to upload slideshows, videos, documents, and other materials.  Others  can then comment using their voice, typed words, or drawings.  Since this was new for me, I decided to restrict the creation of threads to me only.  One thread that I created was a series of pictures that showed the class doing various things.  When I demonstrated how to use it, the class immediately took hold loved it.  I asked them to go home and place a comment on a slide explaining what International Baccalaureate Learner Profile was been shown.

One of my students, who was incredibly nervous about oral participation in class (more than once I saw her break down in tears when I asked her what she was thinking), went home and produced the most lovely oral comments.  I was so happy that this student was able to find her voice in a way that she was unable to in class.

Mess of tangled cords caused by headphone neglect


To support my use of VoiceThread last year the school purchased several sets of headphones for the computer lab.  I took responsibility numbering them and putting them into plastic bags.  When I took my students to the computer lab I gave them explicit instruction on how to use them.  My class was fantastic with the headphones, however it was not long before cords got tangled and people stopped putting them back properly.  Both my students and I became frustrated when it cam time to use the headphones.  Based on this if you must use headphones, I would encourage each class to have their own set.  This will help ensure that you have control over how they are maintained.


Over the summer I began to think about using Dropbox with my students. The IT staff at my school were kind enough to create a class Dropbox account and install the program on all the computers in the lab.  Once that was done I created a folder for each class that contained all the students and synced it with my personal folder.  Thus, I will have access to their work from anywhere.  When I introduced it to my students this week I received several “ooh’s” and “ahh’s.”  One student was elated at the fact that if she gets it installed at home, then she no longer has to worry about having to carry around a USB stick.

The examples presented above would mainly fall into the “Doing old things in new ways” category of Mark Prensky’s article.  However as I continue to evolve in my own understanding of technology and how to use it in the classroom I have goals:

Open Things Up:

This is a scary proposition for me but as I become more comfortable with technology I want to open up the world to my students.  I want them to interact with others so that they can learn from the knowledge of others.  I want them to find people who share their passions so that they can follow it even when there’s no one geographically close to them with the same interests.  I want them to demonstrate their learning in a way that interests them using tools that are easy for them to use.  Most of all I want them to continue to evolve as people and leave at the end of every day feeling good about themselves and that they have contributed to the global pool of knowledge.

Changing Assessment:

Tests have their place; I believe that.  However, as I gain more proficiency with various technological tools, I want my students to explore these tools and use them to further their own understandings.  On Monday I texted my co-teacher and told her that I wanted to open up the next assignment and get away from the idea of posters, essays, speeches, and tests.  I want them to be creative.  I want to push them to try new ways of expressing themselves by opening up the project to permit the use of technology beyond research, Word, and Power Point.

Photo Credits:

Headphone Mess by Brendan Lea

Image Sources, Creative Commons Licensed, Found on Flickr

Blue Marble (Planet Earth) by woodlewonderworks

Taking a Test by peruisay

Video Credits:

VoiceThread use in classrooms by ericdvid2

Dropbox Demo by theragax

1 Comment

Filed under COETAIL, Course 1, Responses to Readings

Reflections and Questions on Educational Technology

Is the Internet a mass of content or a mass of connections?  As I thought about this question I reflected on my own history of the Internet usage.  When I first began using the Internet I used it primarily to access information that I needed or wanted to know.  However, as I grew older and the Internet grew, my Internet habits have changed.  Now, I use the Internet mainly to connect with my family, friends, other educators, and others who share my passions.  If the Internet has evolved to the point where people are mainly making connections to others, then the question that arises is how can we best utilize those connections to make a positive impact on ourselves and the world around us?  The readings this week provided some insight into how I might be able to do this.  I was particularly impressed with the example of Laura Stockman in the article “World Without Walls:  Learning Well with Others” by Will Richardson.  The article introduces us to Laura as an example of how one person’s global connections can have an impact locally.  Laura’s example highlights the benefits of “The Collaboration Age;” however, as is pointed out in the article, the ability to connect with experts and others requires us to rethink our roles as educators.  The article provides some insight in what that new role might be:

“It’s about being able to form safe, effective networks and communities around those explorations, trust and be trusted in the process, and contribute to the conversations and co-creations that grow from them.”

As I read this quote it reminded me of my own thinking over the summer in preparation for the COETAIL program.  I pondered my role as a teacher integrating technology into the class and the article helped remind me of the direction I should continue to take in my own teaching practice.  Instead of being the provider of knowledge or resources, I need to work with the students to ensure that they have the ability and the understanding of how to create their own learning networks through the use of blogs, VoiceThreads, Wikis etc. That being said, I was left with several questions:

  1. Where do I begin this process with my students, when I feel that my own understanding is not sufficient?
  2. How do I get the parents on board to support their students going beyond the typical classroom walls?
  3. What modifications do I need to make in my teaching in order to ensure that this type of learning is effective?
  4. How do I maintain an effective balance so students develop a healthy online presence but do not neglect face-to-face connections and the experience of hands-on-learning?

Question 4 is the one that perplexes me most.  For example, I could very well create a digital learning experience for my students on dairy-farming by setting up a Skype conference with my relatives in the field and blogs to capture their thinking.  However, how does this experience compare to students actually going to a farm and experiencing the process of farming hands-on?  Or does educational technology function best as a compliment to rather than a substitution for hands-on-learning?  Or do we need to rethink entirely how we view and use educational technology because as Christenson and Horn suggest in Disrupting Class: Student-Centric Education is  the Future

“Schools have done what virtually every organization does when implementing an innovation.  An organization’s natural instinct is to cram the innovation into its existing operating model to sustain what it already does.  This is perfectly predictable, perfectly logical – and perfectly wrong.”

I don’t have definitive answers for these questions, but they will help guide me along the journey toward the continued improvement of my teaching practice. Will Richardson poses many of the same questions in his article.  However, he does not provide any answers; instead he provides a model for teachers to become connectors and offers suggestions to help begin their journey to find the answers that best work for them in their situation.  Both of the sites provided by the author encourage people to connect and share with others.  Perhaps as Dean Shareski suggests in his video for the K-12 Online Conference 2010, the first steps toward furthering understanding and getting involved are not only taking the risk to connect with other educators around world but also to be willing to share my thoughts and ideas with them.

When I first found out that part of the course requirements included keeping a blog, I thought that it was a great idea but that I would only use it for specifically course related entries. This article has inspired me to modify how I view this blog and include in it my own musings about education in general.  Not only that but also to include some examples of work that I have done with my class (as I begin the process I will be putting up resources for people to use and critique).  I invite people to read and to offer their suggestions. As Ewan McIntosh said:

Sharing, and sharing online specifically, is not in addition to the work of being an educator.  It is the work.”

I look forward to working with everyone in the class and learning from each person’s thoughts and ideas.

Image Sources, Creative Commons, found on Flickr

/ponder by striatic

Sharing ideas by festivalslab


Filed under COETAIL, Course 1, Responses to Readings