Technology Integration Expands the Capabilities of Educators

Four middle school students working together on a laptop

Recently, my school has changed to a 1:1 technology ratio school. I love seeing the excitement on my students’ faces when I tell them we are going to be using laptops. Although making the transition hasn’t always been easy, I am enjoying the learning process along with my students of figuring out how technology will change our classroom for the better. Incorporating laptops into my daily lessons has made me realize how much more I need to know in order to be an effective educator in a technology integrated classroom. The need for teachers to have additional technology training for proper implementation in the classroom is becoming more and more necessary. In a 1:1 ratio school, every student has access to a laptop, allowing them easy access to assignments, resources, and private teacher feedback. With that kind of resource, and proper training for the facilitators, the possibilities for growth in our classrooms are endless.

According to the SAMR Model (Schrock, n.d.) of technology integration developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, technology in the classroom can be implemented in four stages. The lowest levels of technology integration are substitution and augmentation, in which “Technology acts as a direct tool substitute with some or no functional improvement.” (p.1) What this means is that technology is used as a direct substitute for something else, such as using a word processor to write an essay instead of using pen and paper. Although using technology in this way can make the process much easier for teachers and students, planning that only incorporates substitution and augmentation does not necessarily impact the level of growth for students in a positive way. The higher levels of the model are modification and redefinition, where “Technology allows for significant task redesign, or the creation of new tasks that are previously inconceivable.” (p.1) In other words, these two levels of the model are where technology integration takes the lesson to another level that has the potential to seriously impact our students’ growth. Instead of asking students to research and create a PowerPoint presentation, we can now ask them to research and create an app design to make their ideas a reality in our ever changing, technology savvy world. Those ideas are now possible because students learned to use that technology in the classroom.

What I got out of the SAMR model was that technology can now be used in many more ways than we ever dreamed when we were students. In a survey conducted by PBS, “74% of teachers say that technology allows them to reinforce and expand on content.” If most teachers are already using technology, professional development on this topic is necessary to grow as effective educators. As teachers, we are redefining the classroom experience by integrating technology. In order to be sure that our students are continuing to grow academically, teachers will need more training in order to be better instructors in the ever changing world of education.

So what types of technology training should teachers have?

Sally Bowman Alden, executive director of the Computer Learning Foundation, in a 2005 article said, “There are several common characteristics among effective teacher training programs: (1) incentives and support for teacher training; (2) teacher-directed training; (3) adequate access to technology; (4) community partnerships; and (5) ongoing informal support and training opportunities.” We need programs and training in ways that make us think outside of the box as educators. We need hands-on training that teaches us not only how to use technology, but how to use it in the best way possible to help our students achieve.

I would like to see professional development training on integrating technology in the following ways.

  1. Using technology as a tool for private, individualized feedback, as well as assessments. This can be done in the form of quick checks, polls, and exit tickets. When you teach multiple classes of students, sometimes giving each student the attention they deserve can be hard. All of our students deserve personalized and private feedback. This way, students will better understand their personal strengths and weaknesses, in order to continue improving academically.
  2. The role of digital citizenship and teaching our students to use technology in a safe way. Our students need to be aware of the dangers of getting too comfortable online, as well as understand what it means to safely use technology.
  3. Increasing student engagement through the use of technology. We want our students to be engaged, and stay engaged throughout an entire assignment to avoid technology becoming a toy. Websites such as Class Dojo can help teachers manage classroom behaviors, and allow teachers to give rewards and increase engagement. However, using technology to teach is still new to most of us. I could always use more ideas on ways to make my class more interesting and keep students’ attention.

When it comes to technology, I am always open to trying something new, or learning more about ways to change things in my classroom, to keep improving year to year. I think with the resources we currently have and will get in the future, technology can change the course of education for the better. When we embrace this change, and continue learning we are on the right path to become the best educators we can be.

 

References:

Bowen Alden, S. (2005, September). Effective Programs for Training Teachers on the Use of Technology. Christian School Products website. Retrieved September 26, 2015, from http://www.christianschoolproducts.com/articles/2005-September/Departments/Effective-Programs-for-Training-Teachers-on-the-Use-of-Technology-.htm

PBS Survey Finds Teachers are Embracing Digital Resources to Propel Student Learning. (2013, February 4). [Press Release] Public Broadcasting Service website. Retrieved September 26, 2015 from http://www.pbs.org/about/news/archive/2013/teacher-tech-survey/

Schrock, K. (n.d.). Resources to support the SAMR Model. Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything website. Retrieved September 10, 2015 from http://www.schrockguide.net/samr.html  

 

 

About the Author
Sari Goldstein

Sari Goldstein

Sari Goldstein is a graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in political science and a minor in psychology. She spent most of her 3.5 years in state college, PA, but also spent one semester studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. After graduating from college she began working for Teach for America in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system. She teaches middle school language arts, and is hoping to continue making a difference in the lives of students nationwide. Her passion is creating educational equity and higher literacy rates within Title I schools.