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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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What Does "Technology Integration" Mean?

Mary Beth Hertz

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

One reason why I love blogging is the chance to get a variety of responses to my ideas and thoughts. A reader of my last post commented:

"This article describes how to help children learn to use an unfamiliar computer program. Is that what 'integrating technology' means?"

This got me thinking: what do we really mean when we talk about "technology integration?" To me, the term means that technology is not taught as a separate class, but integrated into the classroom. It also means that students use technology to learn content and show their understanding of content, not just their expertise with a tool.

However, how do we get to that point? Despite the popularity of the term "digital native," we should not assume that our students know how to use technology to create quality projects that show deep understanding of content.

Therefore, technology integration may not look the way we want it to until our students move beyond familiarity with tools and into being able to choose the correct tool for the job. As I stated in my previous post, it takes time for students to become familiar enough with a tool to really employ it for learning beyond the tool itself. However, if we take the time to let our students explore tools with guided practice, we can ensure that your classroom will move toward true integration.

I see various levels of integration, with the ultimate goal being seamless integration.

A) Sparse Technology is rarely used or available. Students rarely use technology to complete assignments or projects.
B) Basic Technology is used or available occasionally?often in a lab rather than the classroom. Students are comfortable with one or two tools and sometimes use these tools to create projects that show understanding of content.
C) Comfortable Technology is used in the classroom on a fairly regular basis. Students are comfortable with a variety of tools and often use these tools to create projects that show understanding of content.
D) Seamless Students employ technology daily in the classroom using a variety of tools to complete assignments and create projects that show a deep understanding of content.

This table is by no means perfect, but is a starting point to think about how technology integration looks in your own classroom. In addition, your classroom may move through these levels over the course of the year.

To get to "seamless," you must ask yourself:

  • What skills are applied to nearly all tools? (i.e. saving a file, naming a file, finding a file)
  • How many different tools will you introduce this year? (How many is too many?)
  • How will technology help your students better understanding content--will it push them to deeper understanding?
  • What level of integration do you want in your classroom by the end of the school year?

Of course, you often do not have a choice about how integrated our classrooms are due to lack of availability. You many never move past the 'basic' level if this is the case, though grants, Donors Choose projects and grabbing lab time whenever you can will help your class move toward a higher level of integration. Remember, even a simple tool like Flip Cams can give your students a chance to connect more deeply with content through technology.

At what level of integration is your classroom? How would you define levels of technology integration?

Mary Beth Hertz

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

Comments (27)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

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Josh Allen's picture

Great post, Mary Beth! It really got me to thinking about how we here can incorporate the table and technology in general so it's easy for teachers to use and tie it in with our electronic curriculum guides. As I'm thinking about webinars for my district next fall, it also got me thinking about how I present the topics to teachers - how to "label" them so they have a better idea where it would fit into their curriculum. Hmmmm. I need to go have some time with the "drawing board." Thanks!

David Kinane's picture

Mary Beth, enjoyed the post. You are right to highlight the levels of integration, and you table echoes what I observe in many classes. However I have been inspired by David Jakes and his observations on the impact of furniture on student attainment. Getting e-learning to happen in a class can be hampered by the physical environment. The situation is really trying to shoe horn C21 technologies into a school building designed on C19 industrial teaching practices. I have recently presented to my fellow teachers how they can practically alter their class environments to facilitate better integration of the equipment in their classrooms. Maybe your Sparse or Basic categories are suffering from such impediments? Take a look at the slide show to see some of the ideas that can be simply implemented, complete with links to David Jakes' inspirational slideshow.

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
Blogger

[quote]Mary Beth, enjoyed the post. You are right to highlight the levels of integration, and you table echoes what I observe in many classes. However I have been inspired by David Jakes and his observations on the impact of furniture on student attainment. Getting e-learning to happen in a class can be hampered by the physical environment. The situation is really trying to shoe horn C21 technologies into a school building designed on C19 industrial teaching practices. I have recently presented to my fellow teachers how they can practically alter their class environments to facilitate better integration of the equipment in their classrooms. Maybe your Sparse or Basic categories are suffering from such impediments? Take a look at the slide show to see some of the ideas that can be simply implemented, complete with links to David Jakes' inspirational slideshow.[/quote]

Thanks so much for bringing that to light. Yes, space can be quite an issue. Especially with class sizes on the rise and building growing more and more outdated. Another issue: electricity! Often classrooms have only one or two outlets.

I love David Jakes' classroom spaces discussions and couldn't agree more that these kinds of issues could keep people from true integration. I would argue, though, that we (meaning everyone from teachers to admins) need to be creative in how we use our existing spaces as most of them are not going anywhere soon!

Thanks again for a great point and the link!

Dave's picture

If the goal is seamless integration, then plot a path by which your students can sequentially learn a set of tools, where

- the understanding and skills gained from learning one tool are leveraged in learning the next tool in the sequence

- a newly-learned tool is immediately put to use in classroom activities, providing opportunities for consolidation and reinforcement while the "tool learning" focus shifts to the next tool in sequence

CarolArc's picture
CarolArc
Business-Entrepreneurship/technology/career/personal finance

Great post! I have to laugh at people who say that digital natives know more about "technology" than non-natives. It's not what they know, but how they use it. Maybe the statement should be, (most) "digital natives" know how to use a cell phone, text, download music and play games better...

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