What does effective technology integration in a pre-K to 12 classroom mean? When I was in K–12 classrooms, many believed that using technology to present lectures to middle school English language acquisition students indicated effective technology use. There are many more edtech tools now, and with educators required to implement so many tools, they often don’t get a clear picture of what successful technology integration looks like.
Referring to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards for educators, I developed a rubric that will allow teachers to reflect on successful technology integration. The rubric could also be used by administrators to evaluate technology integration.
Every day in the classroom, we base everything we do on standards. How else would we know what to teach each day? Similarly, ISTE has provided educators with standards for best practices in integrating technology. These 24 standards are a bit daunting for most teachers, so I’ve condensed them into seven categories and articulated specifics to use as a guideline when deciding why and how to use technology to improve student learning.
A Rubric for Effective Edtech Integration
We can envision an ideal education technology teacher and classroom but not a clear path on how to get there. By breaking down the different components of successful technology integration, you can scaffold your learning to meet your own needs and the needs of your students. This rubric is broken down into seven different areas of educational technology.
Teachers do the following:
- Seek to continually improve their practice by learning about emerging technologies
- Create experiences where all learners can engage with digital content and digital tools
- Model appropriate use of digital tools and content by critically examining resources to ensure that they are safe, legal, and ethical
- Use digital tools for collaboration between and among students, parents, and colleagues
- Use technology during lessons to deliver authentic learning experiences that align with content standards
- Utilize innovative digital learning environments that engage and support learning
- Manage the use of technology in the classroom and at home
What are you already doing and happy with, technology-wise? What areas are new to you? I’ve also broken down each area into levels of technology integration, from novice to expert. Which areas spark your interest to work on in your classroom?
Each year, as teachers, we have goals to improve our teaching and learning. This year, why not start with edtech? Look at the seven categories of this rubric. More than likely, you’re already doing many of them. Where could you improve? For example, I use technology daily for evaluation and presentation with my students. After self-reflection on the rubric, I decided to add using technology for collaboration and global communication. Or, in addition to attending traditional technology professional development sessions, why not make it a priority this year to build your online professional learning network (PLN)?
One specific area of this rubric that I struggle with is digital citizenship. How could you model these skills for your students this year? How do students know that information online is not “fake news”? How could you model for your students that when they’re communicating online, it should be with the same respect as if the person were standing in front of them?
How School Leaders Can Use the Rubric
Administrators, when you’re evaluating your teachers, how do you define what successful technology integration looks like in the classroom? This rubric could also be utilized during observations. Teachers, however, should explicitly be given the rubric and have the time and guidance to reflect upon it and the seven categories well before implementing the rubric as an evaluation tool.
In addition, if they use the rubric for evaluation purposes, administrators should provide an open dialogue after observing a teacher. For example, if an administrator fails to see evidence during the lesson that shows that the teacher strives for continuous improvement and study into new technology tools, the teacher should be given the opportunity to show evidence of PLNs, technology professional development opportunities attended, or self-directed learning about best practices in edtech.
Perhaps the rubric could be incorporated into a schoolwide plan for technology integration, allowing teachers to choose categories to work on and reflect upon throughout the school year. Some categories would require teachers to prepare before evaluation. For example, Mrs. Smith would need to show evidence of PLN collaboration or self-study on technology tools to meet the category of continually improving practice by learning about emerging technologies.
I challenge administrators to utilize this rubric in an open dialogue with teachers about best practices when integrating technology.
Ensuring the Lasting Efficacy of Edtech
In my own teaching, I found myself getting excited about a new tech tool. I would come home from an ISTE conference with a list of the five latest and greatest tools that I wanted to integrate into my classroom. Six months later, I would find the tool changed, out of date, or not meeting my needs. I then started to change my thought process about edtech and edtech tools. I started to reflect upon why I was using the tool. Was it for student collaboration, for student evaluation, or for student engagement?
Once my mindset shifted to thinking not about the specific tool but about the reason for using the tool, I found that my vision for edtech in my classroom changed. Why are you using an edtech tool in your classroom? What area of ISTE standards does it help you achieve? My hope is that this rubric can guide your reflection to a greater vision of edtech for teaching and learning in your classroom.