Vision Statement

Say ‘Yes’ to Technology Integration in Education

It is laundry day. Do the words washboard, dolly tub, and mangle mean anything to you? If you have never heard of these words, consider yourself to be very fortunate indeed. Women in the 1930s and 1940s used devices like these to wash clothes. Today, we have front loading, top loading and HE washing machines—they are all-in-one devices. One machine cleans, rinses, and wrings out our garments while we do something else. When the machine is done, we simply transfer the clean clothes to the dryer. Technology like this frees us from drudgery and provides leisure time. If this is the case, why would anyone reject technology that makes our lives better?

Unfortunately, some educators still reject technology integration in the classroom. Perhaps resistance occurs because people are not aware of the benefits of technology integration. Like the washing machine, technology integration strategies are beneficial, if not, invigorating.  Would you say “yes” to the implementation of technology if 1) it supports teaching models already in existence and empowers teachers by ensuring choice; and 2) it cultivates meaningful learning and motivates learners?

Teachers are more likely to use technology if it complements their teaching practices. In the book Integrating Educational Technology and Teaching (6th ed.), Roblyer and Doering clearly state that both directed and constructivist models are supported by technology integration. For example an educator who utilizes the directed teaching model may be surprised to find that technology integration can be used “to promote skill fluency or automaticity”. (Roblyer & Doering, p. 49) What does this mean in terms of the real world?

Consider this scenario: a communication technology teacher has certain students who are not as fluent as they should be when it comes to their word processing skills. He knows an online typing tutor like “TypingWeb” will be perfect for these particular students because they can work at a comfortable pace, and he can monitor their progress. Technology used in this manner makes sense. When I first started teaching in the 1990s, communication technology teachers had each and every student use a how-to-type textbook. Everyone started on the same page and ended on the same page. There was very little freedom to work at your own pace. Some of these teachers even shouted out the letters or words from the textbook while students typed out what was said. This would be done over and over. Of course, this drill and kill method was tedious. If you were a communication technology teacher which teaching method would you prefer? More importantly, if you were a student which method would you prefer?

The above scenario also brings to light the fact that technology integration allows for choice. The teacher has clearly decided that some students need to practice certain skills while others do not. He has control over how technology is used to support the curriculum and meet the needs of his students at the same time. He sees the advantages associated with this choice. However, some teachers do not feel comfortable making these choices even if there are definite advantages. This occurs because some educators simply do not know where to begin nor do they know which steps to take. They have a lot of important questions that require answers. Some possible questions might be:

  • What tool works best with the content that must be covered?
  • Is there a technology-based method that effectively meets both learning and teaching needs?
  • How much time and work will it take to implement the technology solution?

Some experts, like Robyler and Doering, believe that by having a technology integration plan in place teachers are more likely to use technology in their classrooms. A Technology Integration Planning Model (TIP) guides the teacher during the decision making process, and each step “helps ensure that technology use will be meaningful, efficient, and successful in meeting needs.” (Robyler & Doering, p. 52) In addition, such a plan “gives teachers a general approach to identifying and addressing challenges involved in integrating technology into teaching.” (Robyler & Doering, p. 52) Simply put, the plan encourages teachers to choose what new resource to use and what to reject if there is no relative advantage to using it. Clearly, if choice is encouraged, teachers will be more willing to use technology in the classroom as well.

Of course, methodology and choice are important but the true advantage of technology integration is that it cultivates meaningful learning and motivates learners. In an article entitled “Global Collaboration for Elementary Students” two elementary school teachers, one from Maryland and the other from Hawaii, decided to bring their two schools together via Skype. Once the students formed partnerships, they wrote poems together. What the students gained in the end was more than just ‘partner poems’ though; they also gained an understanding of various cultures and geography. Furthermore, the educators were completely amazed at other results as well. Dana Novotny, a technology integration teacher, observed that “by choosing collaborative tools” (like Skype, Edmodo and VoiceThread) we “renewed the love of learning for our students. They were “excited to learn, collaborate, and communicate.” (Richardson, 2012) Another unexpected outcome from the exchange was that “Edmodo and VoiceThread  made it possible for the teachers to support and celebrate student work.” Richardson also added, “it meant the world for the students in Hawaii to have teachers from Maryland giving positive feedback on their work. It was a wonderful feeling to know that someone so far away cared about what they were producing.” (Richardson, 2012) However the most powerful testimony comes from one of the student’s own reflections. The student noted that “the (tools) allowed them to learn with each other, not just about each other.” (Richardson, 2012) Wouldn’t you want your students to be motivated and invigorated by technology? Wouldn’t you want your students to be a part of something this meaningful? The answer, of course, is ‘yes’.

The above example proves that “technology, when integrated into the curriculum, revolutionizes the learning process. More and more studies show that technology integration in the curriculum improves students’ learning processes and outcomes.” (“Why Do We Need Technology Integration,” 2007) Who wouldn’t want to improve learning processes and outcomes? Technology integration fully supports teaching models already in existence and empowers teachers at the same time by ensuring choice. More importantly, however, it fosters meaningful learning and motivates learners. Because of this, we must say ‘yes’ to technology integration in education.

References

Richardson, C., MEd. (2012, August 08). Global Collaboration for Elementary Students.        ISTE: Leading and Learning. Retrieved September 04, 2012, from http://www.iste.org

Roblyer, M.D. & Doering, A. H. (2012). Chapter 2. Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th ed., pp. 34-70). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Why Do We Need Technology Integration? (2007, May 11). Edutopia. Retrieved September 04, 2012, from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-importance

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9 thoughts on “Vision Statement”

  1. Does anyone know how to format the reference section on a wordpress post or page? I can’t seem to get a hanging indent [I tried to cut and paste the text (from MSWord) and word processing it directly into the post or page but the formatting would not ‘hold’] to work no matter what I do. Any help you could provide would really be appreciated.

  2. Nona, I loved your comparison to the washing machine as an introduction to technology improving our lives. It really highlights the benefits of some technology. I agree that some teachers do not feel comfortable making technology choices. In my experience it is often the fear of the unknown. I think that schools really need dedicated people to choose technologies (and take suggestions from teachers willing to offer them), train people, and show how to use them in an educational context. The last part is key, because a lot of teachers won’t take the time or simply can’t spare it to learn how to use a new technology and fit it in to the curriculum.

    • Jamie, you are so right when you said: “I think that schools really need dedicated people to choose technologies (and take suggestions from teachers willing to offer them), train people, and show how to use them in an educational context.”

      In my school division, we have this in place. It has made all the difference in the world. Our PD was “built” around this premise.

      We have an AISI program in Alberta, where school divisions apply for gov’t grants (at the provincial level) and these grants (if you get one) are used to meet the school divisions’ needs or the goals that they have set. Our division decided to focus on using TI in the classroom. I was trained, then I was able to train others.

      Fear and time commitments are important issues that must be addressed. We must give teachers the time to explore, then use the technology. This helps alleviate some fears too! I think we also have to give teachers a choice. They need to be able to pick and choose what they want to try. Trying to do everything is overwhelming! I think that adds to the fear too. There is a lot out there. We need to narrow down the choices (based on experience and expertise) then go from there.

  3. Amazingly enough, I was doing laundry when I read this. It is certainly true that laundry is much easier to do than in my mother’s, and certainly my grandmother’s day (although I can remember when my grandmother had a wringer washing machine). The only problem I can see with this argument is that technology doesn’t always make things easier and more
    efficient. Certainly, it’s great to do grades on a spreadsheet, but don’t we need to make sure that setting up the spreadsheet and entering the data doesn’t take more time than just doing the figures on a sheet of paper. Engineering chanllenges, I’m told, often suffer from scaling effects like these.

    • I totally agree — technology doesn’t always make things easier but it usually make things better, especially if you choose wisely! When it comes to technology and its use in my classroom — I am picky. I refuse to use something that cannot be mastered readily and effectively. More importantly, it better improve or foster learning or it’s not even on the menu! With that said, I honestly believe that the simplest tools or strategies are the most effective (ie. your comment about spreadsheets vs pencil and paper). Let’s look at the two washing machines; and let’s say each one is a particular teaching strategy — are you going to choose the wringer (or mangle) washing machine when you can use the “push the button” model? Often we will choose the tool that is easier to use, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Students are like us in that regard. Often they will choose the tool that works the best for them. I like to give them a choice. And when I do, they choose something that appeals to them. Sometimes they even choose the more challenging “tool” because they really want to use it! Perhaps that is why I like the TIP process mentioned by R & D. As a teacher, you choose which tool to use and when to use it. Do we always pick the right tool, no we don’t. But at that point we assess why it didn’t work and go back again and rework it or we try something new.

      PS To me the pencil is a tool! And I still love the feel of a pencil in my hand!

  4. Concerning the formatting. It’s difficult to do a hanging indent considering that on a narrow screen, lines are added. It’d be easy if the page was of a defined width. I had the same problem with mine, btw.

    • I think you might be onto something (re: the width of the page). I think there were a few of us who had the same problem. All we can do is try. I guess.

  5. There are many good points for technology integration. I liked how you captured my attention with the “laundry day” metaphor. Unfortunately, it was this same metaphor that cast a shadow over the rest of your writing because I couldn’t shake one idea from my head. As you stated in the opening paragraph, the technology in washing machines frees us up from the drudgery and gives us more leisure time. Of course the modern day washers have a clear advantage. Unfortunately applying technology to education is not as easy as pushing a button or turning a knob. Therefore, this metaphor was hard for me to accept.

    I recognize there are many benefits to technology integration and that is one of the reasons I am studying a master’s of edtech. However, speaking from my own experiences and colleagues not as advanced in technological resources, adapting to many of these technologies can be very taxing, in a drudgery kind of way. Even I have been to cool technology workshops that later served not purpose for what I was trying to do or what I had to do in the classroom.

    As I continued reading on, I enjoyed reading about your observations and applications of technology in education, and I believe both the student and teacher can benefit. Unfortunately, the rate of change and adaptation of education to current technologies is much slower than the rate of change for the developments of newer or more advanced technologies. I think most educators are willing for technology integration; after all it is very common place that computers are used for keeping records of grades. In my opinion, the main reason that some teachers resist technology integration is because of the learning curve and time investment for the technology. Perhaps they are waiting for a teaching resource that all you have to do is push a button or turn a knob, and that discussion opens a whole other can of worms.

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