As with any new tool or resource, integration and implementation should be done judiciously and with a full understanding of the rationale behind it. As pointed out in Deubel’s article, these tools “should not be implemented just for the sake of adopting technology” (2010). Otherwise, schools run the risk of chasing trends fruitlessly, becoming reactionary and chaotic collections of gadgets and doo-hickeys instead of dynamic learning environments.
There are three essential principles that should guide technological integration in the classroom: content, added value, and assessment (Dexter, 2002). This parallels the relative advantage charts, where content –> problem, added value –> relative advantage, and assessment –> expected outcome.
Content: What Are You Trying to Teach?
Teachers should consider what their learning outcomes are – true in any situation, but particularly important when considering the integration of instructional technology. Associated with this is understanding what cognitive skills are being exercised in an activity. Different technologies will be helpful – and, of course, unhelpful – depending upon whether students are practicing recall, analysis, or creation. As Sara Dexter points out, “When learning outcomes drive the selection of technology in a classroom, the educational technology will be a better fit for teaching and learning, supporting the achievement of the designated outcomes” (2002).
Added Value: What Will Technology Bring to the Classroom?
The next principle involves determining what result the technology will have in the classroom – what the relative advantage of integrating said technology would be. A convenient reference for this is Andrew Church’s Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, which shows how different technologies might be utilized in order to exercise different skill sets (2008).
Deubel’s article lists several key questions to be answered before integrating new technology. If the teacher can answer yes to at least one of the questions, then the technology may be helpful to students. These key questions explore whether the technology would assess prior knowledge, enhance organization of information, promote active engagement, provide feedback, acquire monitoring/evaluating skills, and adjust to student differences (2010).
Within this principle lies the critical point in the integration of educational technology. There are many exciting digital toys available to us, and more are created every day. The savvy educational technologist must carefully filter which of these gadgets will and will not bring any added value to the classroom. It’s bursting with potential and features, but will Google Wave actually benefit the average history class (O’Donnell, 2009)? As cool as it may look, does the English classroom really need a combination taser/MP3 player (Newman, 2009). Wait – don’t answer that…
Assessment: Will Technology Help Assess Student Learning?
Assessment is one of the fundamental elements of instruction (Danielson, 2007). A professional educator is constantly assessing student ability, knowledge, and learning – all a part of what one of my favorite professors called “knowing your students”. Another part of assessment is that a well-constructed activity will provide assessments directly to the students, allowing them to see how they are progressing.
Two of Deubel’s key questions ask whether a new technology will “provide the instructor with relevant information about students’ knowledge and skill level” and “provide frequent, timely, and constructive feedback” (2010). The critical issue, then, is whether a particular tool or resource will help teachers with effective assessment, and/or whether it will provide students with the tools for self-assessment.
Churches, A. (2008). Bloom’s Taxonomy blooms digitally. Tech&Learning. Retrieved from http://www.techlearning.com/article/8670
Danielson, C. (2007). Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Deubel, P. (2010). Technology integration: Essential questions. Retrieved February 6, 2010, from Computing Technology for Math Excellence Web site: http://www.ct4me.net/technology_integr.htm
Dexter, S. (2002). eTIPS-Educational technology integration and implementation principles. In P. Rodgers (Ed.), Designing instruction for technology-enhanced learning (pp.56-70). New York: Idea Group Publishing.
Newman, J. (2009). 10 totally ridiculous combo gadgets. PC World, November 27, 2009. Retrieved from http://www.pcworld.com/article/183001/10_totally_ridiculous_combo_gadgets.html
O’Donnell, E. (2009). Google Wave and schools. Teaching matters: Innovating for student success. Retrieved from http://www.teachingmatters.org/blog/google-wave-and-schools