“Integrating” Technology

What’s up folks?! It’s officially 2018 and educational technology is booming at an alarming rate. In other words, there are options available to teachers, students, and parents that didn’t exist just 10 years ago. Apps, web tools, and devices that are now becoming faster, smaller, and less expensive. Students no longer need to view a screen from 30 feet away to see the content being presented to them (Thank you Nearpod and Google Cast for EDU). Students can reflect on a topic or question from the privacy of their own home with their own personal device (Thank you Recap and Flipgrid). Peer collaboration and feedback can be done from any internet-enabled device from anywhere in the world (Thank you GSuite and PeerGrade). Anyone can create a professional video to be seen by a global audience with a Smartphone and free web tools (Thank you WeVideo, YouTube, and SoundTrap). Professional development is now at our fingertips on demand with podcasts (Thank you House of EdTech, The EdTech Take Out, Cult Of Pedagogy, and all other educational podcasters). With all of these tools at our disposal, if someone was to walk into a random classroom in any school district in any state, student devices would probably be used to consume and not focus on the 4 C’s.

Why is this? Is the term “Integrating” too broad? Do schools and districts not teach what these look like in the classroom? Do school district network block many of these tools because of what they can “possibly” bring? What are the “possibilities” that these tools can bring to a classroom?¬†Authentic experiences. That’s what they can bring.

Sure, someone who wants to use these tools for the Dark Side will do so. That’s where classroom management comes into play but that’s another topic for another day.

Integrating technology means students are creating content for others to view, evaluate, and possibly augment. Integrating looks like students using classroom and personal devices to create videos to be used in student-created lessons for virtual presentations. Students are not in rows but in pods around the room. The teacher is not teaching whole group rather, facilitating and working with small groups to check progress. The class is a bit louder than a “stand and deliver” environment because students are engaging with each other, collaborating with others, and engaging in feedback. Students, for the most part, want to come to class because of the authentic experiences that occur and the ability to tap into their creative side they normally cannot do in the typical classroom setting. If this is what true integration looks like in a classroom, ask yourself this, what does YOUR classroom technology integration look like? If you’re not a teacher, what does your child’s classroom look like when you walk in? What do you want it to look like?

Teachers, if you’d like to truly integrate technology do something you haven’t done or are possibly scared of doing. Step out of the comfort zone and understand that you will be uncomfortable. That’s OK. There are many others feeling what you are feeling and more importantly, there are many people who can hold your hand along the way. Twitter is a PLN. Connect with teachers who can assist you with this virtually and in your building. Your district probably has coaches who are more than willing to help you and model integration for you. Start off by taking one day a week without handing out worksheets. #worksheetlesswednesday. This is an achievable task that can be done with minimal effort. After doing this for a couple of weeks, beef it up by aligning what you’re doing with one of the 4 C’s. Continue checking in on Twitter and collaborating with others in your building and possibly outside your building. Listen to podcasts (such as EdTech Bites) and build your knowledge during your commutes, walks, workouts, or while cooking (Thank you Amazon Echo and Google Home). These baby steps towards true technology integration will bring you closer to the classroom teacher you’ve always wanted to be. More importantly, will create authentic experiences for your students. After all #kidsdeserveit right?