Sunday, October 13, 2013

Using technology vs. Technology Integration

I'd like to thank you all, first and foremost for checking out our website. We promise to bring you real classroom tools to use. If you'd like to check out who I am and what my experience is, please check my about me page. Just as a small introduction, my name is Blair Einfeldt. I teach English at Rock Spring High School in Wyoming. I have taught Spanish, Argue and Debate, Speech and Communications and I coach basketball. I have found that after teaching all these many subjects, the use of technology is something that can be transferred across all curriculum and subject matters. most importantly however, technology is a language. It is what our students speak and know and if we can not show a level of understanding of this language to our students, we lose a large amount of credibility. Yes, the new Common Core outlines 21st Century Skills and this is an incredible drive for education to utilize technological tools, however I think this is secondary to reaching and teaching our students where they are.
It is with that in mind that I'd like to detail out something that I have noticed and what I find to be a clear and important distinction before diving into any fun tools. Recently, I’ve been noticing that a lot of instructors are under the erroneous impression that they are successfully integrating technology into their classrooms.  However in reality these instructors are merely using technology. The distinction seems like semantics; I promise it is not.

I would like to take a second and detail out the distinction in my mind. It is so important to being able to understand where you are and where you want to be with speaking this important language as well as preparing our students for the future.

Using Technology
Integrating Technology
Use of tech is not consistent and often arbitrary
Technology use is consistent, planned and has meaning
Technology use is the focus
Technology is used help create new learning avenues
Technology use is used to convey information
Technology use is used provide avenues to encounter information
Technology is used sparingly or sporadically
Technology is used routinely
Technology is teacher centric/used
Technology is student centric/used
Technology is limited to individual use
Technology is used in collaboration
Technology is used explicitly to introduce content
Technology is used to excite and engage students into learning the content
Technology is used as part of activities that would be better off without it.
Technology is used to improve the student’s ability to do something that otherwise may have been difficult or even impossible.
Technology is ancillary to the learning process
Technology is an essential part of the process

To better emphasize some of my point, I would like to look at two particular items:
1. Powerpoint
Often we as instructors think that using a powerpoint and showing it on our overhead projector is integrating technology. If we look at this definition, we are not truly integrating technology as we are using it. Think about it, a powerpoint conveys information, is teacher centric, it is used as part of an activity that can easily be done with out it, it is even individually driven.
2. Microsoft Office for Wordprocessing
I am a huge proponent of using Office for word-processing purposes, however it is important to understand that this is not an example of integration of technology. Again, it is individually driven by the students, it is not necessary and it is also often sporadic in use as these word processor programs, from what I have noticed, are only used for final drafts of writing.

Now, while I understand completely that some teachers do not have technology at their disposal. Believe me, I have been where you are. I have taught in places where it is not readily available. And while some activities require using technology, hopefully in the next few weeks we will give you some ideas and tools to better integrate technology in your classrooms, rather than simply using it.

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