Nov 11

Technology is a given, not a debate

Not “if” but “how”
Using technology in the classroom is now a given and it shouldn’t be debated anymore. We must try close the gap and if we don’t provide technology in the classroom, the digital gap grows. Embed, integrate, blend, combine, incorporate…does it matter what label we give it. Technology integration cannot be about “if” a teacher adopts technology, but about “how”. The definition of integrate is: combine (one thing) with another so that they become a whole. If I take this to mean combining technology at different grade levels to create a whole, then really all that there is left to do is finding ways of “how”.

Classroom teachers must understand how tech integration will be evaluated. Providing faculty with a clear set of exemplars and reasonable short/long term goals will guide and ‘push’ all teachers to find ways of “how”. Equally important is the time frame these goals must be attained. But I must argue that it must be reasonable! As schools continue to utilize technology, there needs to be a reasonable time-table provided to meet all objectives. Like most things in life, rushing the process often leads to an inferior product.

Becoming a Whole

In this day and age we should all agree that technology needs to be completely ‘embedded’ in the curriculum from the beginning. As we get more comfortable with technology it should become natural for us to use it. If we don’t think twice about grabbing our smartphones to read the news or check up on friends; why shoud it be any difference in the classroom. Technology is at our finger tips and many schools are already combining it within all aspects of the curriculum to become that “whole”.

While researching this topic, I came across Miss Cheska blog. She wrote an interesting blog about classroom integration in which she presents 7 ways to increase Teacher Technology Integration in the Classroom:
1. Create a clear vision of what an ideal classroom with integrated technology looks like.
2. Build an on-campus professional learning network.
3. Build an online professional learning network.
4. Invest in yourself.
5. Expand your learning network to the classroom.
6. Publish, publicize, and advertise your students’ technology-related work.
7. Develop a reflective practice with your integration of technology in the classroom.

I love how she has presented these 7 ways so clearly. They apply to teachers but also the administration of schools. If I were to present technology integration in my classroom in a simply way, it basically means finding ways for students to do things that will allow them to utilize technology tools as much as possible. Daily use is vital and I think students are starting to rely on the technology throughout their learning.

Integrate Technology into Teaching and Learning

I have started looking more closely at the idea of four tiers of tool usage from Ruben R. Puentedura’s A Matrix Model for Designing and Assessing Network-Enhanced CoursesMy understanding of the SAMR model is that there are 4 levels of integration that increase in complexity and the effect they have. The 4 levels range from simple ‘substitution’ (a simple replacement that barely changes the function) to a more complex ‘redefinition’ where the technology provides opportunities to create in new ways.


The tiers are listed below:

1. Substitution: the computer substitutes for another technological tool, without a significant change in the tool’s function.
2. Augmentation: the computer replaces another technological tool, with significant functionality increase.
3. Modification: the computer allows for the redesign of significant portions of a task to be executed.
4. Redefinition: the computer allows for the creation of new tasks, inconceivable without the computer.

Teachers could substitute paperwork and weekly newsletters through web based tools such as Weebly, Schoology, Google Docs or even as simple as sending newsletters through email. I have a class website that lets me manage important dates, curriculum information, newsletters, etc. and it allows students/parents instant access.

At the augmentation level the computer replaces another technological tool. When using laptops in the classroom, students noticed as an improvement was being able to compose their first drafts of writing on the computer instead of by hand. They really thought this was great and took far greater risks with words of which they didn’t know the spelling and then using spellcheck.

A tool that works wonderfully as a modification with kindergarten is Voicethread. Once the students have published their voicethreads (mainly read out loud or storytelling), their friends and family members from around the world will be able to view and add comments; something that would never have been possible.

As for redefinition, that’s where we all hope to be heading next. A class should be using technology at several different tiers in order to provide a variety of opportunities for learning and to create new things that would not be possible without technology!


 Some rights reserved by mrsdkrebs



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  1. Profile photo of Jeff Utecht
    Jeff Utecht

    I think it’s good to remember as well that the SAMR model is not a liner one way progression of technology use but rather a circle of steps that once we hit redefinition we start over at substitution. Not everything needs to be at redefinition but we should be using technology in some way that is heading there.

    1. Profile photo of Sanne Bloemarts
      Sanne Bloemarts

      Good point Jeff. I agree that we would probably need to go back and tweak our technology integration at the different tiers. As we tweak and reflect we can work toward redefinition. But it’s good to hear that not everything needs to be there from the start.

  2. Profile photo of Aroma Pannu
    Aroma Pannu

    Hi Sanne
    I always enjoy coming back to your blog. Your posts are so reflective and apply the understandings in such a broad manner. Love the visual you have used to anchor this post. Where did you find it? Best.

  3. Profile photo of Sanne Bloemarts
    Sanne Bloemarts

    Thanks for your feedback Aroma. I get most of the images of CC websites.
    Here’s the link to the first image;
    link to flickr.com

  4. Profile photo of Elvina Tong
    Elvina Tong

    Hi Sanne. This is a great reflection on embedding technology! I am hearing teachers worry about how schools’ expectations of teaching with technology might just add something *more* to do. Our school is even adding a technology domain to our teacher evaluation process, which has been putting more pressure on teachers. However, I think having admin and teachers aware of what you’ve written here would help. A lot of teachers are also asking for examples of what they can do. Like Jeff says, this is not a circle – as in, once you hit redefinition, it doesn’t imply going back to start at substitution. So, I am also wondering now… even though these are tiers or levels, shouldn’t we be incorporating all levels into our teaching all the time?

  5. Scott McLeod

    I used your quote here:

    link to dangerouslyirrelevant.org

    Thank you!

    1. Profile photo of Sanne Bloemarts
      Sanne Bloemarts

      You are most welcome. Thank you for linking me to your blog. You have been blogging for quite some time now and have written about many fascinating topics. I especially like one of your most recent post on open access and sharing information. I believe giving back is indeed the key. Have you read, “Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live,” by Jeff Jarvis? Washington Post wrote an article about him and his book last week. It’s worth while the read.
      I feel honored to be part of your network and very much appreciate your respect towards my ‘creative commons licence’on my blog.

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