What does in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy mean?

The Covington News - - Local -

The New­ton County School Sys­tem has out­lined three strate­gies it ex­pects ev­ery teacher to use in their class­room. The strate­gies are: us­ing re­search-based in­struc­tion strate­gies build­ing back­ground knowl­edge and in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy. These three strate­gies have proven to be suc­cess­ful in im­prov­ing stu­dent achieve­ment. This month’s topic of dis­cus­sion is in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy, and what it means to in­te­grate tech­nol­ogy.

Sev­eral years ago while talk­ing to a group of ad­min­is­tra­tors from an­other county, I asked the fol­low­ing ques­tion: What does in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy mean? The rea­son this ques­tion is im­por­tant is be­cause there are sev­eral lev­els of in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy; and if a teacher stops at the first level, that teacher is miss­ing the po­ten­tial that tech­nol­ogy of­fers to ed­u­ca­tion.

The first level of tech­nol­ogy in­te­gra­tion is when the teacher uses tech­nol­ogy to en­hance an ac­tiv­ity she is al­ready do­ing. For ex­am­ple, for a teacher who nor­mally lec­tures to her students, she might in­te­grate tech­nol­ogy by us­ing a Pow­erPoint to sup­ple­ment that lec­ture. Al­though us­ing Pow­erPoint is in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy, it is do­ing so at a very ba­sic level. Students pre­fer the re­in­force­ment that Pow­erPoint of­fers over just a lec­ture; how­ever, this form of in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy uses only a small frac­tion of the po­ten­tial that in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy of­fers.

The sec­ond level of tech­nol­ogy in­te­gra­tion is when the teacher uses tech­nol­ogy to trans­form her teach­ing prac­tices. For ex­am­ple, in­stead of read­ing and dis­cussing colo­nial life in Amer­ica, the teacher may use tech­nol­ogy to take students on a vir­tual field trip to Wil­liams­burg, Va., to “see” colonists make can­dles, build fur­ni­ture, and weave a bas­ket. In this way, students get to “ex­pe­ri­ence” colo­nial life in ways that might be im­pos­si­ble to do so with­out in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy.

An­other ex­am­ple of the sec­ond level of in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy is when students in­ter­act with math lessons by solv­ing prob­lems on an Ac­tivBoard. This in­ter­ac­tion com­po­nent is the key to in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy at the sec­ond level be­cause it al­lows students to as­sume own­er­ship of their own learn­ing. By giv­ing students the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in their own learn­ing in a mean­ing­ful way, the students learn more and re­tain more of this knowl­edge longer.

In this ar­ti­cle, we be­gin spot­light­ing our schools with ex­am­ples of tech­nol­ogy in­te­gra­tion.

Spot­light on Heard Mixon: On a re­cent visit to Heard Mixon El­e­men­tary School, I heard about a col­lab­o­ra­tive project upon which all fourth grade students were work­ing. In or­der to meet a spe­cific per­for­mance ob­jec­tive in the Com­mon Core, all the fourth grade teach­ers along with Ms. Aldridge, the tech­nol­ogy coach, and Ms. Mose­ley, the Me­dia Spe­cial­ist, col­lab­o­rated on a project re­sult­ing in each stu­dent cre­at­ing a dig­i­tal news­pa­per fo­cus­ing on as­tro­naut Neil Arm­strong.

I heard Ms. Aldridge ex­plain, “We fi­nally de­cided on us­ing Pub­lisher so that each stu­dent could have a fi­nal ver­sion of the en­tire project with their own writ­ing.” There­fore, the ad­van­tage of this type of les­son is that students are en­gaged be­cause this type of les­son is mean­ing­ful to them. As a re­sult, all the students as­sume own­er­ship over their learn­ing. As Scott McLeod, a na­tion­ally rec­og­nized leader in ed­u­ca­tional tech­nol­ogy, re­cently wrote, “En­gage­ment is not a goal, it’s an out­come of students do­ing mean­ing­ful work.”

Ms. Aldridge sent me an email later ex­plain­ing the im­pact this les­son is hav­ing on these students. She wrote, “The students re­ally have en­joyed work­ing on this project be­cause they were cre­at­ing some­thing mean­ing­ful and tak­ing own­er­ship of it. They were ex­cited about even the re­search be­cause they wanted to make sure that the ar­ti­cle they wrote was ac­cu­rate and in­ter­est­ing—Ms. Mose­ley kept re­mind­ing them how hard it was to be a jour­nal- ist—and how they were ‘try­ing to cre­ate a pa­per that some­one else would want to buy.’”

The dif­fer­ence be­tween these two ex­am­ples of in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy is that the teacher’s goal of us­ing Pow­erPoint did not give the students the op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a prod­uct, while the goal of the sec­ond ex­am­ple at Heard Mixon was for the students to pro­duce their own prod­uct. Both ex­am­ples en­gaged the students in their learn­ing; how­ever, the sec­ond ex­am­ple added rigor and added mean­ing­ful­ness to the students’ learn­ing.

To achieve the full im­pact of in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy students should as­sume own­er­ship of their learn­ing; this may hap­pen by in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy at the sec­ond level. Teach­ers need to put the tech­nol­ogy into the hands of students. As I men­tioned in my last ar­ti­cle in July, we live in a par­tic­i­pa­tory cul­ture.

Throughout the county there are many other ex­am­ples of teach­ers us­ing tech­nol­ogy at both the first level and at the sec­ond level of use. Our task, as we continue to move into the 21st Cen­tury, is to train teach­ers in how to in­te­grate tech­nol­ogy into mean­ing­ful lessons that al­low students to as­sume own­er­ship over their learn­ing.

Gary Shat­tuck is the di­rec­tor of tech­nol­ogy and me­dia. He can be reached at shat­tuck.gary@new­ton. k12.ga.us.

GARY SHAT­TUCK

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