Embed, integrate, blend, combine, incorporate…Does it matter? After our last couple of COETAIL sessions I have really started to wonder if it matters what the definition is of ‘integrated technology’ is! I know that Jeff hates this word because he believes it gives the impression of forcing two things together when it should be a natural use and needs to be completely ‘embedded’ in the curriculum from the beginning. Well I tend to agree with Jeff in some ways, not that it should be called embedding but that we should be using these resources without necessarily thinking about it. I know people would disagree but we have used chalk boards, textbooks, Smart boards and now don’t think twice. The same should be with the technology that is at our finger tips now.
So what exactly is it?
‘Technology integration’ in the classroom is just another learning strategy for students as far as I can see. We must keep this clear in our minds: As educators, what are our students’ learning goals? The classroom may look different today but we still go to school for the same reasons to be educated. Using technology in the classroom with students expands and enriches learning. It is using skills that are transferable in all subjects and outside of school as well. It allows students to gain feedback from their peers and people across the world not just from their teacher. As well providing a wealth of sources. Importantly it is also helps to motivate and engage students as they feel that it is part of their lives. We must remember that the students we teach are digital natives, it is only us that is taking a while to catch up.
From a young age I have been expected to define the things I learned so that we can all be on the same level of understanding. But as Jennilea said last session, you could probably find 100 definitions of ‘technology integration.’ The world is different now. It is not like in the past. If, for example, you wanted to ask ‘what is a computer?’ You would have to look it up in an encyclopaedia as books and journals were our only stop for all understanding or ‘knowledge.’
We have more and more terminology and ‘knowledge’ occurring everyday. According to this article by George Siemens, knowledge is doubling every 18 months (take what you want from that piece of information, we discussed the definition of knowledge for 30minutes). The point is that with ‘technological integration’ is that it will continue to change if it is reliant on technology. 10 years ago it would have meant using Power Point or a Smart board in the class. Surely ‘technology integration’ would be dependent on the latest technology at our finger tips? Today maybe it is the ability to create connections with people around the world using social media. ‘Is it the influence of Facebook?’ I hear you ask. This then puts into question the statement that ‘generally speaking, the curriculum drives the use of technology and not vice versa’ from Wikipedia.
From researching ‘technology integration,’ one of the most useful resources I found was ‘7 ways to Increase Teacher Technology Integration in the classroom’ by Miss Cheska:
‘Individual teachers can design their own technology growth development plans by outlining their expectations for the school year. Take out the school’s mission statement and your learning objectives. How does the technology fit in? Align learning objectives with the appropriate tools, and list 1-2 new tools you would like to use in the classroom. Set small measurable goals. Focus on one goal at a time. Schedule time during the week to practice with the tools.’
I found that this point helped me to think about the idea of defining Technology Integration. We don’t have to, because it relies on the individual circumstances of the teacher, unit, class, students or school.
I wonder what it will like to train as a teacher in 3, 5, 10 years time!