Tag Archives: Week 2

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.

Training

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

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

Freedom

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.

Plan

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

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Connectivism: Questioning the role of the teacher in a connected world

It seems that every week there is a news article debating issues in education from the value of standardized testing amongst scandal, the value of technology on education, how to improve the quality of teaching, and trying to figure out which educational theory works best in an always connected world,   Sir Ken Robinson provides an explanation as to why people are constantly critiquing the education system in his speech Changing Education Paradigms.

Mr. Robinson mentions that the current solutions being offered are not working because the suggestions being put forth to improve education do not fit with the current model that exists in schools.  This week I was introduced to the theory of Connectivism which suggests that learning is a process of connecting nodes or information sources to further one’s understanding, in contrast to the current assembly-line model of education.

In his post Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, George Siemens introduces us to his ideas on how we can best educate our students in a digital society.  He makes some interesting points in his article and raises some intriguing questions, particularly concerning the limitations of educational theories because they “…are concerned with the process of learning and not the value of what is being taught.”

Connectivism could be explained as a learning theory that encourages students to use their connections to further their learning in a field of study that is interesting to them.  This theory stresses the importance of being able to make connections between bits of information, discerning useful or truthful information, and maintaining connections to ensure further learning and currency of information.  However, I felt uneasy when I got to the conclusion and read his suggestion that “the pipe is more important than the content within the pipe.  Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today.”

Yes, I agree that being able to learn something is an incredibly valuable skill.  Yes, I act more as a guide with my students, helping them to understand the big idea and allowing them to research their own inquiries. But, do I believe it should be up to each individual to follow only what interests them: hardly.  Reflecting on my own interests as a child, if I had only followed the nodes that allowed me further to develop my knowledge of areas of interest, then I would have wound up learning nothing except how to put on a show, “Who Shot Mr. Burns?,” and perhaps the 100 reasons why cats are better then dogs.

If it were not for my teachers guiding me to learn what they felt was valuable to learn and to understand the bigger picture, I would never have developed an interest in history or religious studies.

I probably will never feel comfortable teaching a course like George Siemens and Stephen Downes did where the only two components were:

  1. enrolled students seeking formal evaluation and recognition
  2. participants engaged for personal learning.

However, after reading the article I am now pondering another question: If technology is to the point where students can access information at any time, then what facts, skills, or “big ideas,” truly need to be taught under the supervision of a teacher?  If the answer nothing, then our profession needs to be reevaluated.  But, if we believe that there are things too valuable to know that leaving it to the chance that students will stumble upon it is not an option, then what are they and what is our position in a world where access to knowledge is as easy as pushing a few buttons? Perhaps the teacher should act as a guide to help students not only see what they want to see but also to guide them to see things that they can’t or don’t want to see but should.

Image Sources, Creative Commons Licensed, Found on Flickr

CMAP of Connectivism v1.0 by  wlonline

Who Shot Mr Burns? shared by Andrew*

Image Source Vladia Vladia

Brendan as Stage Manager by Vladia Vladia

Image Source Graham Lea

Brendan with Mackie by Graham Lea

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Filed under Connectivism, Course 1, Responses to Readings