Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Integration of technology doesn’t work in labs

This was a question posted to the EDTECH listserv and my response to that question.

Q. What techniques are you finding most effective with regards to technology integration / communication within your schools and districts? By this I mean how do you gather information and plan lessons that integrate technology in meaningful ways?

A. Please – no flames for what I am about to say…
You can’t integrate technology in a lab setting where the students only go to the lab once per week for an hour or less.

You can’t integrate technology in a setting where the teachers send the students to a lab to “do technology” and then get them back again to teacher the regular curriculum.
Sorry, it doesn’t happen and research articles have backed this up.

That is why we have gone away from a lab approach at the elementary and middle schools and have instead taken the technology into the classroom.

We have five full time “Curriculum Technology Partners” to serve our 12 elementary schools. We have three full time “Technology Facilitators” that support the middle schools. They are teachers who were chosen/hired because of their curriculum knowledge and who had demonstrated innovation in the classroom, not because of their technology knowledge. We taught them the technology skills they needed.

The “partners” are not troubleshooters, we have others that do that job. The “facilitators” have a dual role, they also serve as troubleshooters at the middle schools. All are certified teachers.
They visit with the classroom teachers, find out what they are planning on teaching the next few weeks (Curriculum), and together they discuss how technology can be used to enrich the lesson. The “partner” either models the lesson or is there to support the classroom teacher in the implementation of the lesson. Later they discuss how it went and make plans to improve it for next year or start planning another lesson.

The “partners” and “facilitators” have a bag full of tools to suggest to the classroom teachers. Internet sites, Kid Pix, Hyperstudio, eZedia, AppleWorks, PowerPoint, Keynote, iTunes, iPhoto, digital cameras, digital video, iMovie, Garage Band, Inspiration, Nettrekker, United Streaming, Atomic Learning, School Center, etc. Friday afternoons is reserved for their training (by myself and others, sometimes an expert brought into the district) and planning.

They concentrate on the day to day use of technology, not big projects and not something that just happens one day a week for an hour.

I have challenged our Curriculum Technology Partners with one statement – “If we were not able to support this program again next year, would the classroom teacher continue using technology in their day to day teaching?”

And ask yourself, if they were to discontinue the lab or the “lab teacher” would there be any technology integration taking place in your school?
Just think about it.

Again… please no flames, my feelings are easily hurt

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