Technology integration is the use of technology resources -- computers, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, digital cameras, social media platforms and networks, software applications, the Internet, etc. -- in daily classroom practices, and in the management of a school. Successful technology integration is achieved when the use of technology is:
Routine and transparent
Accessible and readily available for the task at hand
Supporting the curricular goals, and helping the students to effectively reach their goals
When technology integration is at its best, a child or a teacher doesn't stop to think that he or she is using a technology tool -- it is second nature. And students are often more actively engaged in projects when technology tools are a seamless part of the learning process.
Defining Technology Integration
Before we can discuss how to shift our pedagogy or the role of the teacher in a classroom that is integrating technology, it is important to first define what "technology integration" actually means. Seamless integration is when students are not only using technology daily, but have access to a variety of tools that match the task at hand and provide them the opportunity to build a deeper understanding of content. But how we define technology integration can also depend on the kinds of technology available, how much access one has to technology, and who is using the technology. For instance, in a classroom with only an interactive whiteboard and one computer, learning is likely to remain teacher-centric, and integration will revolve around teacher needs, not necessarily student needs. Still, there are ways to implement even an interactive whiteboard to make it a tool for your students.
Willingness to embrace change is also a major requirement for successful technology integration. Technology is continuously, and rapidly, evolving. It is an ongoing process and demands continual learning.
"Effective integration of technology is achieved when students are able to select technology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information, and present it professionally. The technology should become an integral part of how the classroom functions -- as accessible as all other classroom tools." -- National Educational Technology Standards for Students, International Society for Technology in Education
When effectively integrated into the curriculum, technology tools can extend learning in powerful ways. These tools can provide students and teachers with:
Access to up-to-date, primary source material
Methods of collecting/recording data
Ways to collaborate with students, teachers, and experts around the world
Opportunities for expressing understanding via multimedia
Learning that is relevant and assessment that is authentic
Training for publishing and presenting their new knowledge
Types of Technology Integration
It is sometimes difficult to describe how technology can impact learning because the term "technology integration" is such a broad umbrella that covers so many varied tools and practices; there are many ways technology can become an integral part of the learning process. Just a few of these ways are listed below -- but new technology tools and ideas emerge daily.
The SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model, created by Dr. Ruben Puentudura, guides the process of reflecting on how we are integrating technology into our classrooms. The ultimate goal of technology integration is to completely redefine how we teach and learn, and to do things that we never could before the technology was in our hands. For more information, you can watch a series of podcasts by Dr. Puentudura, visit his blog, or read Dr. Puentudura's paper on the model (PDF).
The TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) framework lays out the knowledge that educators need in order to successfully integrate technology into their teaching. The TPACK website provides a large collection of free resources for teachers and other instructional leaders.
Sparse: Technology is rarely used or available. Students rarely use technology to complete assignments or projects.
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.
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.
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.