Stages to Technology Integration
Somewhere on a shelf in many school districts rests a technology plan. Most plans are mandated by the state board of education to move districts ahead with hardware, software and use of new technology. The idea and purpose of the planning is excellent. But before spending millions of dollars on technology, it's wise to get the "big picture" of how technology will foster learning. The most beneficial plan is one that outlines how teachers can effectively integrate technology into their classroom environment. It's important for teachers to consider thoughtfully how to make effective use of this potentially powerful tool.
Many teachers feel they are on an uncharted journey when learning technology skills. The good news is that most teachers are on this journey together and that it has recognizable stages along the way. Given appropriate support at each stage, teachers can learn to integrate technology into the curriculum. The Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT) studied how technology affects teaching and learning. The research results suggest this series of instructional stages:
Although educators, students and the community are aware that technology creates new possibilities for learning and teaching, the system is slow to change. Access to computers is frequently an issue at the entry stage. It is often a time when teachers slightly modify classroom activities to include technology. For example, instead of having students conduct research with print resources, teachers will bring students to a computer lab. However, the nature of the activity stays the same. This can be a frustrating stage for many teachers. Collaborating with other teachers to exchange learning activities and ideas can help entry-stage teachers move ahead to the next stage.
At this stage, technology becomes thoroughly integrated into teaching patterns. Teachers at this stage are often excited about using technology to prepare and present information. Teachers become more comfortable with having students pursue individual interests, but they still design and direct the activities. These teachers need to see effective models and lessons for integrating technology to help them envision a more student-centered learning environment. Collaboration and mentoring are critical at this stage.
At this stage, technology widely changes and expands the learning environment. Transformation-stage teachers use technology seamlessly in the classroom. Project-based learning activities are common, and students are self-directed. Students have many opportunities to design their own learning pathways, and teachers utilize new forms of assessment. There is an emphasis on higher-order thinking. These teachers continue to innovate and expand on technology use as new tools become available. Teachers at this stage should continue to collaborate with other teachers and mentor others.
Staff development specialists and classroom teachers know this evolution process takes place in different ways for different teachers. These stages only outline broad guidelines. However, no matter what instructional stage you are at, the important thing is that you're on your way to encouraging exciting learning for everyone in your classroom!