Integrating Technology

Technology is the newest approach to teaching in our district and one that has a ton of potential as a force multiplier as we service students with diverse needs. With a student demographic that is primarily Native American and Latino-descent we deal with students that are torn between two languages and competing cultures. Technology holds the key to helping us bridge that gap between our minority language learners increase their achievement and success levels in school.

In order to do that though, technology needs to be used and implemented properly. Too often, as with most any new tool, teachers are not trained or given continuing training in the proper implementation of this tool in their classroom. Whether it is new curriculum or new technology it is only effective if the teacher can adapt their teaching practices to account for this new tool. What usually happens though is that the teachers see this new tool (e.g. technology) as a single or dual use device and not have the training to truly understand its potential. What has to happen as technology enters the classrooms  its value must be vetted against the one thing that is truly important - how does it improve and strengthen my students’ learning?

Sir Ken Robinson states in his RSA video, How to Change Education, that “an education that isn't nuanced to the individual differences of its learns soon finds that many people are disengaged from it or alienated by it.” Technology has the ability to nuance learning for our students, especially with our minority language learners, yet can also be another $250 pencil as well if the teachers do not have the professional development (training) or the support to take the risks needed to change their pedagogy then it is really just a waste of education funding.

Eric Sheninger and Weston Kieschnick of the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE) have looked deeply at the need to integrate technology into schools, but not at the expense of sound pedagogical practices of the teachers. In their paper, Integrating Technology into Instructional Practice: Using the Rigor/Relevance Framework as the Primary Tool for Successful Blended Learning, there are several questions that must be answered before the use of technology, or I would say any new program, can be introduced into the classroom. They are:

  1. What capabilities do I want my students to develop?
  2. In what specific ways is my instructional design rigorous, relevant, and goal oriented?
  3. What are my benchmarks for rigor? Relevance? Relationships? Clear objectives?
  4. How does this digital tool support the development of the capability I want to develop in my students?
  5. Is my teaching, using this tool, still as structured, rigorous, and relevant as it would be without this tool?

As new curriculum or technology is added to the mix of things in our schools these five questions must be honestly addressed. Our mission is simple, and Sir Ken Robinson said it best, “education is a teacher and a learner… if there is no teaching and learning happening there is no education going on.” As we integrate technology into our schools we need to do the due diligence and make sure there is still education happening.

This article is shared on this blog as well: HJHS Google In the Classroom: Pedagogy Trumps Technology

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