Your school needs technology integration specialists, if it doesn’t already have them. Gone are the days that tech teaching is left to tech teachers in discreet technology classes. Everyone, especially teachers, needs to understand how tech is an integral tool to the education process. They need to understand that technology should be emphasizing, rather than working perpendicular to classroom objectives and projects. This blog post looks at how technology can and should be implemented by a Technology Integration Specialist.
First, we need to look at whether technology should be used and why, as well as how it should be thought of.
Should technology be used?
Harold Wenglinsky’s study, “Does it Compute: The Relationship between Educational Technology and Student Achievement in Mathematics,” concluded that for 4th and 8th graders technology has “positive benefits” on achievement as measured in NAEP’s mathematics test. But it is critical to note Wenglinsky’s caveat to this conclusion. He argues that not all uses of technology were beneficial. Wenglinksky found using computers to teach low order thinking skills, “…[W]as negatively related to academic achievement….” Put another way, this type of computer use was worse than doing nothing. (http://home.blarg.net/~building/strategies/technology/foltos.htm)
The answer seems to be yes and no. The Atlantic says these are the Important Skills for the 21st Century Learner and lists them from most important to least important:
- Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Questioning
- Accessing, Analyzing, and Synthesizing Information
- Innovation, Creativity, Curiosity, Imagination
- Ethical Decision-Making
- Agility, Adaptability, Flexibility
- Global Citizenship, Social and Cross-Cultural Interaction
- Initiative, Self-Direction, Entreneurialism, Resourcefulness
- Productivity and Accountability
- Multi-Disciplinary Decision-Makings
Referring back to this list, we, as educators, need to consider how to properly implement technology to cater to the highest skills authentically.
Larry Cuban has been quick to note that his surveys suggest that fewer than 20% of teachers use technology several times a week, and up to half of all teachers didn’t use technology at all. (Cuban, et al., Winter 2001; Cuban, August 1999) Even if teachers used the technology, Cuban concluded, few employed these tools in ways that would improve teaching and learning. “[M]ore often than not,” he noted, “their use sustained rather than altered existing patterns of teaching practice” (Cuban, et al., Winter 2001). (http://home.blarg.net/~building/strategies/technology/foltos.htm)
What does this mean?
I am coming from an IB perspective. With this guise, the skills critical to ICT are: Investigating, Creating, Communicating, Collaborating, Organizing, and Becoming responsible digital citizens. For each of the six Programmes of Inquiry (POI) units, they might have this focus. With that focus, the best tools (See:Edorigami list of Web 2.0 tools, Edorigami ICT Tools & Online Collaborative Tools) can be used to enable the work of students.
In deciding the best tools, the Technology Integration Specialist, along with the classroom teachers needs to discern whether technology should actually be used. The question: WHY? and TO WHAT END? should be posed alongside any decision to implement the use of technology
Along with deciding the best tools to use with the skills for each POI, the approaches the Technology Integration Specialist takes are as follows:
- School meeting integration –
- Technology should be showcased at each meeting. There is so much new hardware, software, online and off that is developed every day, if there isn’t a glimpse of it every week or so, everyone is getting left behind.
- Tech integration specialist should be doing their homework, finding solutions, collating and deciding which are the best available to showing other educators.
- In-class push-ins –
- TIS can be Leading – Class is lead by the TIS
- Supportive – Class is co-hosted by the TIS
- Reflective – Class is observed and reflected upon by the TIS
- One-on-one* – Classroom teachers may want prior teaching about technologies in order to present these ideas as their own to their classes
- Individual meetings with educators –
- The primary focus for teachers follows these guidelines from John D’Arcy of CDNIS
- “there is no rush”
- pragmatic and compassionate (have expectations of teachers, they have to be on the journey)
- curriculum and pedagogy
- teachers and students first
- If a school has a PYP/MYP/DP coordinator, TIS should be sitting down with their perspective coordinators and with the classroom teachers. This should occur before each unit and ideally weekly or bi-weekly to reflect upon best approaches.
- Organization of technology groups –
- The IBO states this about the the ICT committee: “Different stakeholders in the school community could be members of an ICT committee. However, it is essential that the pedagogical leaders of the school are members of this committee as they are responsible for the effective management of resources (people, time, equipment and money).”
- The TIS might also structure mixed high-level/low-level groups with team leaders to help disseminate learning and obtain feedback from staff
- Online presence –
- To reiterate, backup, and showcase all things tech a TIS should have a major presence online. This would be through, but is not limited to:
- Blogs – like this one
- Google+, Docs & Calendars
- the IBO OCC
- Professional Development –
- The TIS should search out technology professional development opportunities that are applicable to all stakeholders. They might post these on a common calendars, email them, or even talk to educators directly.
- They ensure that development is taking place at the school. It could be through traditional approaches or online. Check these out.
- They do PD themselves and then come back to present the ideas and reflections during meetings
*This idea was presented to me by a classroom teacher as a way I could support them.
As a technology integrator, I made this presentation to a school to describe what a TIS was versus a traditional technology teacher.