Saturday, March 22, 2008

"What does technology integration look like?"

A question had been circulating throughout the ACTEM list serv that I subscribe to. (ACTEM is the Maine technology educators group) and one member asked

"What does technology integration look like?"

Being a Technology Integrator myself I find this question really important and like David Jakes I realize that we should be well beyond the need for the term integration and the tech should be part of the daily life of a teacher. Because that is not yet the case, here are three rules of thumb I use for tech integration in the classroom:

#1) Replace, don't add on.
Nothing seems so trendy as education, and this is especially true when talking tech. I think the approach should be to replace an existing task teachers have rather than piling one more thing on. And if a task isn't going to be improved by using technology, don't force it!

#2) Honesty about the tech curve.
The 'Tech Curve' is that period of time it takes to learn anything new (not just tech) and how during that time your productivity actually will go down. Integrators must build enough trust that the teachers will take that initial effort to see their productivity go farther than they ever could have without the technology.

#3) Use the technology yourself, WITH STUDENTS!
I often read or hear suggestions about using this gadget or that website. But, unless the integrator has used the tech in a classroom setting with students I hold off passing it on. It's difficult to answer all the inevitable questions that will come up, usually it's the things you don't plan for, but could thwart a great idea. If you don't take the time, teachers will pay the price and you'll lose some of that trust you've built. (See #2)

This list doesn't cover everything, of course, but it seems to work for me as a rule of thumb when I'm looking a new projects to work on with teachers.