What is Effective Technology Integration?

The Technology Integration page at Edutopia.org provides a good explanation:

Effective Technology Instruction is when its use supports curricular goals. It must support four key components of learning:

  1. active engagement
  2. participation in groups
  3. frequent interaction and feedback
  4. connection to real-world experts

This site also has some excellent exemplary videos and descriptions of effective technology integration in different schools. Keri Hem’s TeacherTube video is another exemplary video: Effective Technology Integration.  Keri  stresses  that the focus be on the learning, not the technology, and that the learning activity needs to be difficult or impossible without the technology.

WAIT! Don’t click the back button yet This is a good starting point to help answer the question, but far from a complete answer.

Effective technology integration also requires a solid understanding of good pedagogy well grounded in solid educational learning theory and principles, such as the supporting principles for Manitoba Education’s Literacy with ICT developmental continuum:

• inquiry
• constructivist learning
• higher-level critical and creative thinking
• reaching deeper understanding
• gradual release of responsibility
• digital citizenship
• multiple literacies for the 21st century

In Avoiding the Digital Abyss: Getting Started in the Classroom with YouTube, Digital Stories, and Blogs – Mullen & Wedwick (2008) wisely recommend that when using digital storytelling, it is important for students to focus on the story first and the digital medium second, otherwise the stories can be weak and overpowered by the technology” (p.68) A similar message is delivered by Jason Ohler inthe March 2009 issue of  Educational Leadership in Orchestrating the Media Collage: “Focus on expression first and technology second and everything will fall into place”.  He also recommends teachers “be the guide on the side rather than the technician magician” (p. 13).

Yet the transformative changes required to allow that shift from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side” have shown to cause confusion and conflict in teacher belief systems as outlined by Chao-Hsiu Chen in Why do teachers not practice what they believe regarding technology integration? “Educational reform may encourage teachers to integrate technology to engage students in activities of problem-solving, critical thinking and collaborative learning, but a culture emphasizing competition and a high-stakes assessment system can strongly discourage teachers from undertaking such innovative initiatives.” (p. 73)

Perhaps this  helps  explain why of the 55  industry sectors recently ranked by their level of IT intensiveness, education was ranked 55:

This suggests that intensive technology integration is not going to happen due to the efforts of a few innovative school leaders. This is going to take extensive education reform and  include all the stakeholders: parents, students, educators, administrators, school board members, ministry and elected officials.

Has this reformation begun? Yes. Some schools would even report that it’s already happened. In my school I see the beginnings of some crucial components coming together, including division and school administrator support. Shifts are being made in how we assess students and how we work together in a school-wide and global culture of collaboration and inquiry.

And many resources are available for those ready to make the shift. In All Aboard and School-wide Technology Integration a focus on collaborative planning between teachers, teacher-librarian and other school specialists to plan and implement 21st century skill adoption is demonstrated and explained.

Resource lists like those available at www.futurekids.org & Technology Integration Made Easy have some good tips, but do little to move towards the transformative changes needed to fully integrate the 20th century skills and attitudes.  One excellent resource and example to fully integrate those skills and attitudes is laid out in the grade 4, 8 & 12 21st century skills Map by Dave Nagel, Partnership for 21st Century Skills Debuts ’21st Century Skills and English Map, from T.H.E. Journal ( November 2008).

Can the efforts of a few  innovative school leaders make a difference? Yes! Teacher-librarians and IT specialists are in a  unique position to work with others in the learning community and all the educators in a school towards a common vision grounded in good pedagogy.

img_06241img_06231

Rhonda Morrissette, Mike Friesen, Jo-Anne Gibson and Heather Eby sharing ideas for integrating Web 2.0 tools at a recent Manitoba School Library Association Literacy and Information Technology Forum

I’ve jotted down a few ideas below that I either have or would like to demonstrate how technology will assist student learning in all stages of the inquiry process:

Planning

  • Concept mapping
  • create assessment criteria using a spreadsheet or desktop publisher

Retrieving

  • Best searching strategies including paid subscription sites and newspaper, magazine and journal databases
  • Social bookmarking & RSS feeds
  • iTunes podcasts
  • Collecting Primary Data  using digital cameras, e-mail, videoconferencing, GPS, online surveys and online artifacts.

Processing

Creating

  • wikis to gather information, collaborate & demonstrate learning & synthesize
  • create reports, maps, spreadsheets & charts
  • presentation software like PowerPoint/Slideshare
  • multimedia software like MovieMaker or PhotoStory
  • web pages
  • blog – analysis, reflection and exchanging views
  • Citation software/tools – Citation Maker/Reference Tools in Microsoft Office 2007

Sharing

  • demonstrate learning in a wiki, podcast, videocast, website,
  • mashup, movie, blog, animation, comic book format (using Comic Life software), or essay

Evaluating

  • Blog comments
  • Flow chart

And all the while with teachers assessing, and students reflecting on the process using blogs, electronic journals, e-mail, podcasts, video or digital photograph portfolios. (Focus on Inquiry: Alberta Learning, Alberta, Canada, 2004 & Manitoba Education’s Literacy with ICT developmental continuum).

So what makes effective technology integration? The important thing to know is that no educator is alone in this. To integrate technology effectively requires a full team effort. It recognizes and honours the strengths and gifts that each student, staff and community member can bring to student learning. It allows students to learn and  demonstrate understanding of their learning using the best tools and resources available.

More on this next week . . . . .

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2 Responses to What is Effective Technology Integration?

  1. Kathy Atkin says:

    Hi Rhonda,

    I am so impressed with your vision for integrating educational technology into the stages of inquiry as outlined in the “Focus on inquiry” document. I’m certain that these would all be serious contenders for a future revision of the document.

    Thank you for highlighting the technology integration article at Edutopia.org… I really like how the authors broke down the four components of learning in supporting curricular goals, as well as the reference that “effective technology integration is achieved when the use of technology is routine and transparent….” … and you’re quite right, it takes a dedicated team effort to bring about educational reform in our schools and especially our libraries.

    I really enjoyed seeing the pictures from the forum. I’m still hearing lots of buzz about the event at our SAG meetings. The return of the Web 2.0 panel at the October conference is going to be highlight!

    -katkin

  2. Jo-Anne says:

    Rhonda,
    A fantastic article (yes, it doesn’t hurt that my picture appears but that’s beside the point). Your vision for educational education is well-thought out and expressed so clearly. I agree with you that one person can make a difference. All you need is a vision and desire to move forward and things will happen.

    Jo-Anne

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