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Technology Integration

Jul 23, 2017 by

Is Technology being properly used in your school district?

Technology is the future of education- no one can argue with that. How can a school leader ensure that technology is being properly integrated into their school? A recent study has shown that many school districts are failing to use technology effectively. Technology is both a challenge and an opportunity for a school leader.   It is generally acknowledged by academics and other experts that it needs to be a part of the learning experience of every student, from the earliest age. School leaders are now obliged to integrate the latest technology into the classroom. Technology can enhance the learning of students, create a learning community and help students to secure better educational outcomes.

However, simply introducing technology into the classroom is not enough. If it is not integrated correctly into a school and the classroom this could be a problem. If technologies such as smart phones are not used in an appropriate way in the classroom then they can become a distraction and impact negatively on the students learning outcomes.  This means that a school leader and their staff need to develop ways to ensure that technologies can be used in the classroom in appropriate ways.  It is incumbent on school principals and superintendents to make sure that any apps, smartphones etc. are used in ways that contribute to the education of students. They also need to devise ways of monitoring if a given technology or set of technologies have been successfully integrated into the classroom.   The following is a guide as to how a school leader can help to incorporate technology in their schools.

Challenges Integrating Technology

One of the main problems with integrating a technology is that it is simply not required and unsuitable. It is essential that any new apps etc. needs to be proven to be effective and adds to learning outcomes of students. There are several challenges associated with integrating technology in the classroom. First, is to ensure that all stakeholders in the school are committed to the use of technology. Many teachers may not be prepared to use smartphones etc. in the classroom. A school leader needs to demonstrate to all of his or her staff the benefits of technology, so that they are all committed to its application in the classroom. Then there is the selection of the technology and which is right for the classroom. There are now many supports that offer a school leader guidance on the right technologies to use. A school leader needs to be aware of the latest research on which technologies are appropriate. Research has indicated that one of the main difficulties in integrating technology into the classroom is what has become known as the ‘engagement factor’. Many of those advocating the introduction of smartphones and apps tend to emphasize the proven fact that they increase student engagement.  However, engagement is not enough by itself to recommend the use of a technology. There are other factors such as its suitability for students and if the activities are cognitively challenging. When considering the use of a technology into a classroom the focus should be on its educational value and how does it inform instruction. Another important consideration when integrating a technology into the classroom is whether it complements the existing methods for instruction. A school needs to ensure that any app needs to improve the instructional capabilities of teachers. Then there is the important issue of ensuring that the technology and its activities are aligned with the curriculum and its aims. There have been many instances in the past where technologies have been used that did not compliment the aims and content of a curriculum. A school leader has the responsibility of ensuring that apps, etc. used in the classroom are helping the student to learn the curriculum. The aim of every school leader should be a ‘seamless integration’ of technology into the classroom.

They can achieve this by:

  1. How many technology tools are introduced
  2. Do the teachers/students have the skills to use them and
  3. Developing realistic goals regarding the use of technology

It is often the case that the perspective of the students is neglected in the adoption of a technology in the classroom. This should be the focus.

How to Integrate Technology

For successful integration, it is important that a school leader critically reflects on the value of a technology and how it can help students and it is suitable.

Here are some general guidelines that have proven to be helpful. School principals should understand these important points, so Consider the Following:

  1. Student Impact: when integrating technology what the impact is on the individual student.
  2. Task-Based: technology is a form of task-based learning.
  3. Curricular Alignment: When considering how technology is used it is important to understand is it aligned with the content of the discipline.
  4. Real World Application: Can it be used to help students to engage in real-life issues and solve real-world problems?
  5. Critique This: How much does this improve their problem-solving skills and critical thinking?
  6. Collaboration: Does it allow a student to engage in independent or collaborative learning?
  7. Bloom’s Taxonomy: Perhaps the most important factor in the integration of technology is whether it is providing the right level of questioning for a student, one that will allow them to learn and develop new skills.

There are several models that school principals can now use to help them with the integration of technology and to make it an effective learning tool. The Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition Model or the SAMR model is very popular. It gives school leaders the understanding of how a technology can be used and to be adapted and aligned with the needs of students and teachers.  Another popular model for understanding the impact of technology on a school setting is the Rigor Relevance Framework (RRF), more information can be found here. This provides a school principal an understanding of how a technology can impact areas such as assessment and curriculum.  This model is based on Bloom’s Taxonomy and allows a school leader to understand and gauge the impact of an innovation on the acquisition of knowledge and the ways that they use that knowledge. The successful integration of technology requires that school leaders take a systematic and critical approach.

 Keywords:

Technology integration, educators, school leaders, SAMR, RRF, curriculum, apps, smartphones.

Comment Below: Please comment on how technology is or is not integrated in your school district.

References

Daggett, W.  (2017) Rigor Relevance Framework. International Center for Leadership in Education. Rexford, NY: ICLE. Retrieved from: http://www.leadered.com/our-philosophy/rigor-relevance-framework.php

Denning, P. (2002). The Invisible Future: The Seamless Integration of Technology Into Everyday Life. New York: McGraw-Hill. Retrieved from: http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Invisible_Future.html?id=A0fbAAAAMAAJ

Edutopia (2007). Technology Integration Implementation Guide. Edutopia. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-implementation

Kowlaski, K. (2016). When Smartphones go to school. Science News. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/when-smartphones-go-school

Puentedura, R. (2016). Technology is Learning SAMR model. Retrieved from http://sites.google.com/a/msad60.org/technology-is-learning/samr-model

Sheninger, E. (2017). Is Technology Being Integrated Effectively? Ed Tech Review. Retrieved from: http://edtechreview.in/trends-insights/insights/2665-effective-technology-integration?utm_source=EdTechReview%E2%84%A2+Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=4454acb841

 

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