Technology Integration: A six-pronged approach

02 Sep


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. (

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
  • Communication
  • Innovation, Creativity, Curiosity, Imagination
  • Ethical Decision-Making
  • Agility, Adaptability, Flexibility
  • Global Citizenship, Social and Cross-Cultural Interaction
  • Collaboration
  • Initiative, Self-Direction, Entreneurialism, Resourcefulness
  • Productivity and Accountability
  • Leardership
  • Other
  • 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). (


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
      • Websites
      • Prezis
      • Scribd
      • LinkedIn
      • Dropbox
      • Facebook
      • Google+, Docs & Calendars
      • Forums
      • the IBO OCC
      • Voicethread
      • Youtube
      • Netvibes
      • Twitter
  • 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.

Further reading about technology in education can be read through links found here and here


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9 responses to “Technology Integration: A six-pronged approach

  1. josie Watts

    December 19, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    We are a small school that is moving toward with a lot of hardware available to both students and teachers but without the most important element of a tech integration specialist. Meaning the wonderful resource is under used and not genuine integrated part of our curriculum. All teachers have their favourite things that are tried and true but with such an explosion of media options we need outside classroom help. It reminds me of the introduction of the teacher librarians versus librarian and the struggle school communities had with accepting outside classroom teacher help. I personally know that my program is enhanced by specialists and can see the essential need of a technology specialist. Thanks for your post I think I might be showing your slide share at a staff meeting soon!

    • | Tom Johnson

      January 13, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      Hi Josie,
      This is great to hear. I look forward to any feedback you have from your staff meeting and how the slideshare went.

  2. Mr. D. (@aasomrd)

    February 24, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Dear Tom,

    I found my way here as part of a course on coaching that I’m doing with Kim Cofino over at Eduro Learning: “Coaching: From Theory to Practice”

    The information in your post was extremely edifying! Same as with my current school, several years ago at my previous school (a fairly new IB World School also in Okinawa) I was part of a team responsible for getting a 1:1 (iPads) ICT initiative going from initial conception to implementation where previously there had been little to no deliberate whole school change leadership in the area of the role of ICT for inquiry.

    That first time around, we were all very inexperienced, and the level of ICT integration in Okinawa was (and remains) relatively low — no direct “local” learning peers were available. So I found myself spending most of my time just rooting around the internet for relevant information from folks who had been through similar experiences. Luckily I was able to connect early on with Mike Muir (from Maine) which lead me to his treasure trove of wisdom on change leadership:

    Our situation was less than idea. We were at a school that was itself new. We were also new to what we were doing (learning about the rapidly evolving and expansive field of edtech integration). And on top of that, the teachers we were trying to support were also first-timers to thinking about how to leverage edtech in their classes.

    Unsurprisingly, we wound up spending most of our time trying to figure out for ourselves (in your words): “how technology can and should be implemented by a Technology Integration Specialist” and then communicating that in word, and most importantly in deed, to the rest of our educational stakeholders.

    Even now, second time around the 1:1 integration thing — and with a lot more direct learning under my belt: COETAIL, #beyondlaptops, L2, and a well curated PLN of my own to boot — a post of this level of quality provides me with exactly the kind of clarity of proof and actionable strategy that I need to help keep me and my team on track. I’ll definitely be sharing it out in my CLCs.


    Mr. D.
    EdTech Director

    • | Tom Johnson

      March 28, 2023 at 10:49 am

      Dear Mr. D.,

      It’s fantastic to hear that you found my post edifying and helpful for your current coaching course with Kim Cofino. She is a close friend of mine.
      Also, I’m so glad to hear that my post was helpful and provided you with the clarity you needed to keep you and your team on track. It sounds like you have a great deal of experience and knowledge in the area of edtech integration, and I’m pleased that my post could provide some additional insight and strategies for you.

      As an EdTech Director, your work is incredibly important in helping to shape the future of education and ensuring that technology is used in meaningful and impactful ways to enhance learning outcomes for students. I’m excited to see the progress that you and your team will continue to make in this area, and I wish you all the best in your efforts. How are you using ChatGPT these days?

      If there is anything else that I can do to support you or provide additional resources, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

      Best regards,
      Tom Johnson, PhD.


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