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
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 Courses. My 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