dinsdag 29 november 2011

Integrating technology into schools

Along with working with the TPACK model, the topic of integrating technology into schools is interesting to talk about. The topic is off course very broad and much is written about this topic. Many people have tried to describe the topic, find out what the problems with technology integration are, what the possible solutions are, etc. You can write at least a 1000 books about it. Therefore, to keep it a little bit small sized, in this blogpost I will discuss the topic as an elaboration on the design of the teacher training program scientifIK.

In the design of scientifIK, we have tried to encourage technology integration in the following ways:

* Different levels of technology integration in the classroom
* Personal guidance and reflection on experiences
* Trying to include the school management

Based on the literature about technology integration levels of Otero et al. (2005) and Moersch (1995) a framework of levels was developed (see the figure below). In this framework it is apparent that training starts at the level of ´exploration´. The two phases before exploration, ´non-use´ and ´awareness´, are the phases that go before the exploration level. In these levels, the teacher does not use technology yet, and when they follow the course they will do so, and therefore they will automatically enter the exploration phase. After the exploration phase, in which the teacher discovers the wonderful world of using technology in the classroom, he will enter the utilization phase. In this phase the teacher will actually use technology in the classroom. One level higher, or lower according to the picture, is the level were teachers will probably develop TPACK. In the scientifIK program we have organized the program according to these levels. As we thought that it might take some time for the teachers to develop their TPACK, the teachers spend at least six months on one level, and 18 months on the integration level which will take most time. As I have described in my previous blog, in each level also a higher level of TPACK was developed. I think that this disctinction in levels makes the program very clear and doable for the teachers. I also think that when teachers have to integrate technology in their classroom, it should go in steps and that the teachers should have some time to explore and use the technology first before they have to implement it.

I also think that the process of integrating  technology is a personal process for a teacher. Firstly, all teachers have different interests in technology, different competences, motivation and confidence about themselves using technology. When a teacher is trying to integrate technology in his lessons he will have to rethink and reflect on his lessons. This might be difficult or scary for the teacher. Therefore, I think it is also part of the professional development of the teachers. In many organizations employees get training and professional development opportunities and I think this should be also the case for teachers (or even more). Individual guidance can help the teachers to overcome their personal issues and difficulties with technology and might improve integration of technology. 

On the school level, the use of technology should be stimulated and facilitated. This starts with the availability of suitable technologies, assistance and a school policy on the use of technology. Suitable technology is technology that works, that has value for the money, that can be used for several years and that teachers feel comfortable working with. When it comes to implementation and integration, the process should not go too fast. It is of most importance that both teachers and school management are involved in the integration process. Many times, technology is bought by the school and the teachers are expected to use them right away. However, I think that the school management should provide time to the teachers to get acquinted with the material before they have to use it in their classroom. Another important aspect is that using technology into teaching is often voluntary for the teachers. No one will make a fuss about it when they do not use the technology at all. I think that this should be made less voluntarily, I think it will stimulate teachers to think more about integrating technology.

Off course, there are many more aspects of technology integration to discuss about....how about students' technology skills, mobile learning, long term effects of learning with technology, infrastructure and connectivity issues....For now I would like to end the story here, as I think this blog is already quite long.... :) will be continued....

References

Otero, V., Peressini, D., Meymaris, K. A., Ford, P., Garvin, T., Harlow, D., Reidel, M., Waite, B. & Mears, C. (2005). Integrating technology into teacher education. A critical framework for implementing reform. Journal of Teacher Education, 56(1), 8–23

Moersch, C. (1995). Levels of Technology Integration (LoTi): A Framework for Measuring Classroom Technology Use. Leading and Learning with Technology, pp. 40 - 42.  

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