Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Technology Integration - New Ideas, Technologies, and Instructional Strategies

Developing instructional strategies for greater collaboration and technology integration is one of the most difficult aspects of any technology coordinators job. Schools will spend millions of dollars to bring in the hardware and software but getting teachers on board is more important than the equipment itself. If the teachers aren't willing to modify lessons to incorporate technology, than even the newest and best equipment is not worth anything.

Providing professional development is one key component to technology integration but it is not the only one. While technology coordinators can show teachers how to integrate technology, until the teachers have time to use it, any professional development is wasted. Most teachers I have spoken with simply say they do not have the time to create lessons using technology. Most also feel that the students must have something on paper or it isn't a good lesson. Once the teachers feel comfortable using other technologies like blogging, podcasting, or wikis, then, and only then, will they feel comfortable using this technology with their students.

Once the professional development has been presented, it is important to give the teachers time to try out the new tools. If teachers are never given time to try things out, they will never utilize the tools in their teaching. Also, the training needs to be in small pieces because if too much information is presented, the teachers will think that it is to difficult and stick with old, tried and true ways.

Initially, having each teacher create a blog and having the staff comment on each others blog is one way to get the teachers using that technology. Once they realize how easy it is to have online communication, teachers will utilize this type of technology to enhance classroom discussion. This is an excellent way to extend the learning outside the classrooms. Furthermore, should a class end before all questions have been answered, a simple posting of the question will allow all students that wish to be heard a way to be heard.

Online collaboration using wikis is another way teachers can share ideas with each other. Beginning with a theme, each teacher will be able to share ideas related to the theme. Looking at the different ways to achieve curriculum goals, the teachers can then work together to create an integrated lesson and not duplicate efforts.

Podcasting is another useful tool in the classroom. Teachers can create a podcast of a classroom discussion and make it available for students to use as a review or for students that were absent the day of the initial discussion.

Using the various technologies listed, teachers will become familiar with technologies the students use daily which should, hopefully, alleviate the fear of the unknown. Students can be involved in helping the teacher develop the blog, wiki, or podcast which gives them a sense of ownership as well as helping them take responsibility for their own learning.

Finally, providing the teachers with some sample lessons that have simple instructions will help the teacher develop the confidence they need to feel more comfortable. Once they experience their own sense of accomplishment and see how the students are taking to the lessons, they will begin to look for ways to incorporate additional technologies on their own. The first step will always be the hardest but once they take it, they soon will be running. As the technology coordinator, it is important to always be supportive of their efforts, even if it takes reteaching a technology several times.

1 comment:

Randy Hansen said...

Hi Alice,

I liked the way you began your blog focused on technology integration AND collaboration. I think some teachers, myself included, tend to forget how technology allows us greater ability to collaborate. If teachers would use technology to collaborate they would save time in the long run. Many don't see that, so the question becomes how do you help them understand that technology will make their jobs easier?