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From Tech class to Tech integration

A learning common

As a new tech integration specialist, moving to a school where they were changing from the tech class to the tech integration model there were certain things that needed to be understood beforehand.

Some of these key ideas I posted in a post called Technology Integration: a six-pronged approach.  Other ideas, however, had more to do with dealing with the emotions of colleagues and I will touch on this now.  I would liken these Kübler-Ross’ “Five Stages of Grief” to the emotions that many of the teachers went through when learning they were dealing with a new strategy for technology:

Denial: Most home room teachers who have been at the school for sometime, upon hearing that their school will be moving to this model will be in shock, and do not really understand what this means.  Some may decide that they do not have time to meet with or interact with the new ‘tech integrator’ assuming this stance as one where they can keep their heads in the sand as long as possible until they will have to deal with what has been given to them.

As a tech integrator it means you need to explain the process to teachers, knowing full-well that many of the words you say or write are falling on deaf ears.  It is of utmost importance that you have patience knowing that they are dealing with change, and are there to offer reassurance, help and support when they are ready to receive it.

Love

Anger: One of the biggest gripes from teachers is that they “have lost their prep. period”.  They do not see the big picture yet and feel like they have gained nothing, but definitely lost what most teachers treasure most – time.

As a tech integrator, this means that you have to be ready to act as the messenger, fully realizing that some teachers will be ready to shoot you.  Again, patience and understanding are key here.  Note that I am not saying, “push for your right to integrate tech”.  A tech integrators role, especially in the early stages, has more to do with empathizing and supporting than it does with integrating technology.  Be kind, be patient, listen, and support.

Bargaining: At this stage many teachers are still not ready to accept the role of the tech integrator and may decide that they will ‘leave for a coffee for the entire period’ while you teach the class in their classroom.  Although this may need to happen at first to ease into the transition there needs to be bargaining and compromise from both sides.  For instance, the tech integrator eventually needs to explain that his role is to be working with the teachers to integrate technology into the classroom.

The tech integrator eventually wants to work his way out of the job.  Essentially, he should be developing computer skills in all the teachers to such a degree that he can begin focussing his role more as a learning coach than a tech integrator.

Another worry from teachers is about how they will do the tech teaching themselves, how they are going to mark, who is going to mark, etc. These questions should all be explicitly focused upon over time with the tech integrator helping out along the way.  Remember, this is not a journey that will take a year.  In my experience and that of others, it takes between three and five years to fully move to tech integration.

Depression: There may be some hidden or some outright depression along the way.  Teachers may say things like, “I don’t know how to teach technology; I just don’t have the skill set; or Please, can you come and teach my class.”

As a tech integrator, the initial stage will mean getting to know all the teachers needs through regular meetings and setting up classroom visits.  However, upon you understanding the support necessary for different teachers, accommodation takes place at different levels.  For example, some teachers may want a lesson to be taught completely by the tech integrator.  Others, may want to team teach.  Other still, may want you there only as moral support or support when something gets tricky.  And finally, many may want you to teach them individually either for personal or professional purposes.  This is where the acceptance stage has started kicking in.

Acceptance: Not only is there a light at the end of the tunnel, but it is a bright shiny light when everyone reaches the end of that tunnel.  Here are some reasons:

  1. The students have a higher chance they are learning technology through authentic means, and not in a separate class where the end goal is to learn technology.  The computer and it’s peripheries begin to be thought of as a tool to help a student come up with better or altogether new ways to create solutions to genuine problems.  Ideally, the teachers and tech integrators are integrating with the highest levels of the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model.
  2. Tech integration improves student learning processes and outcomes because teachers who recognize a computer’s capacity move from a Behavioral approach to a constructivist approach as noted in this article.
  3. Technology integration enables total engagement of the class with tools like Google Docs, Microsoft One-Note, Socrative, Edmodo, and one of my new favorites Todaysmeet.  Integration also allows for students to enlist the help of other classes, schools, or even experts in a field to find the answers to the questions that may be posed.  Students or teachers can post in blogs, on social networks, through ePortfolios and through so many other forms.
  4. As a tech integrator, your colleagues can learn from you in so many capacities.  As mentioned above, they can learn while you are teaching, while they are teaching, or by themselves at their own pace.
  5. Finally, another advantage for you, the tech integrator, stepping into so many classes is that you are gleaning best teaching practice.  I like to think of a tech integrator as a bumblebee pollinating flowers, or carrying best practice from one class to the next. This again is teaching teachers, but it has reciprocal advantages.

While the stages are not the same for all teachers, a technology integrator stepping into these shoes in a school where they are changing from tech classes to integration is unwittingly going to stumble across some, if not all, of the teachers in one stage or another.  He needs to mentally prepare himself for the situation and recognize that he won’t be liked by most upon arrival.  He needs to remember to support, support, support.  In two or three years he will be loved even more than the tech teacher who would take the kids off the teachers hands so they could have a break.  Eventually, he will become the most loved teacher through all the school, even more than the gym teacher!!

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2013 in Technology

 

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Tech Integration Response to Email Questions

brass_integrator

brass_integrator (Photo credit: xmatt)

A recent group of colleagues, tech integrators from around the world, have recently connected through email contact.  One of the cohort posed a few questions, “[I am} interested in Tech lesson ideas for PK – Grade 5.  Also how you’re day is spent integrating technology in your schools. If you teach classes or are full time integration.”

I thought I would share my response here:

Hello,

I am going to try to get back to you about specific tech ideas because there are so many.  Our team is presently developing a website to showcase tech integration ideas using 3 New Literacies: Community, Tools, and Information.  This is being developed for PYP, MYP, and DP.  When it is populated I am eager to share it.  For now, I will point you to the Florida Tech Matrix: http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/

Concerning how the day spent as a tech integrator, it is interesting to compare this year to others.  Essentially as a tech integrator, and as John D’Arcy puts it, we are working our way out of a job and into a learning coach role who spends more time researching and promoting learning theory and practices.  However, teachers will usually need help learning new tools.  Jeff Utecht states, “We are in perpetual beta”.  The way he explains this idea is that online and offline programs and operating systems are continually updating and upgrading.  This means that we never really become experts because a version with all new bells and whistles keeps us and other teachers on their toes.  This is the reason I know we will always have a job as researchers, testers, implementers, and promoters.

As a tech integrator, originally I was working in classes in the capacity as a lead-teacher, co-teacher, or support teacher depending upon what the teacher needed and specified.  More recently I am finding that I am working much more with teachers individually who have lists of questions they would like answered.  I work with them on a weekly basis and help them with everything from blogging, to email and Google Drive organization, to SMARTboarding, to iPad app exploration, and so much more.  They are figuring out and adapting lessons from previous years but still ask for my help once in a while.  I write more about the idea of tech integration here: https://ict-design.org/2011/09/02/technology-integration-a-six-pronged-approach/ and share Keengwe, J., & Onchwari, G.’s (2009) tech integration rubric here: https://ict-design.org/2011/10/25/technology-integration-rubric

With regards to your last query, I am a full-time tech integrator with an open schedule.  I use and share my Google Calendar with staff here: https://ict-design.org/make-appointment  I found that if teachers were able to edit my calendar I would have some of them coming up to me at the end of the day saying, “You didn’t come visit my class” because I missed an appointment they made minutes before the due time.  Therefore, I make my calendar read-only, which means they need confirmation from me about appointment details.  It seems to work much better.

Hope that helps.
Thomas Johnson
Technology Integration Specialist | Learning Coach

 
 

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Technology Integration: A six-pronged approach

Attention:

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.

Proof:

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
  • 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). (http://home.blarg.net/~building/strategies/technology/foltos.htm)

Strategy:

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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Posted by on September 2, 2011 in Education, Technology

 

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