There was a time when technology in schools was so new that the main question was how to open the right program (let alone using it). No idea when exactly this happened, but I remember clearly standing in the staff room when a colleague opened the door to tell me: “Christel, I left a Post-It on your computer screen to tell you I sent you an email.“… and yes Post-It notes were (also) a novelty for us at the time.
In 2007, this Edutopia article was asking: What is Successful Technology Integration? and defined the concept as “[…] the use of technology resources — computers, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, digital cameras, social media platforms and networks, software applications, the Internet, etc. — in daily classroom practices, and in the management of a school.” This was a valid question at the time (and still is!) as it required a shift from using technology in the classroom to doing so successfully and meaningfully.
Nowadays we have access to electronic devices, apps, and tools that didn’t exist yet a dozen years ago. Things keep changing fast in this field and the tools became much more intuitive. Also, the younger generations don’t have to go through the same tech learning curve anymore.
Therefore the objective of integrating technology in the classrooms should focus on encouraging and inspiring students to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of the course content, not to master the tool itself.
“The ultimate goal of technology integration is to completely redefine how we teach and learn, and to do things that we never could before the technology was in our hands” – Dr. Ruben Puentedura
The Right Frame
Technology tools effectively integrated into the curriculum can extend learning in powerful ways. With that goal in mind, these frameworks have been developed to help educators design lesson plans that integrate technology in a meaningful way.
About 20 years ago, Dr. Ruben Puentedura created a model to help educators integrate technology into teaching and learning, called SAMR. This technology framework enables teachers to design, develop, and integrate digital learning experiences for their students.
SAMR is the acronym for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. While the two first levels bring some enhancement, the ultimate goal is clearly to transform student learning experiences by reaching higher levels of achievement with the transformation ones. SAMR framework’s objective is to easily guide teachers and help them plan and create activities that use technology in an effective and meaningful way, and not for the sake of using these tools.
There are different visual representations of SAMR but I particularly like this one, also used by our Middle School leadership team a few years ago during a Professional Development session. I find it clear and accessible to use as a starting point.
For a better understanding of its concepts, here is a video overview of What Is the SAMR Model?, made by Common Sense Media.
The TPACK framework looks at the relationships between technology, pedagogy, and content, in specific contexts. Obviously, there are overlaps of these three main knowledge areas: Technological Knowledge (TK), Pedagogical Knowledge (PK), and Content Knowledge (CK). The ideal is to build the lesson in the junction of all three, right in the middle of it all.
The TPACK Image (rights free)
As Koehler tells in TPACK Explained: “Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) attempts to identify the nature of knowledge required by teachers for technology integration in their teaching while addressing the complex, multifaceted and situated nature of teacher knowledge.”
Here again, Common Sense Media offers a clear video explanation of the concept of “What is the TPACK Model?”
TIM – Technology Integration Matrix
And it comes with a great added value I find: by clicking on any of the cells, you access: Extended Descriptors, Video Lesson Examples, and Related Ressources! This can help you determine where you and/or students stand in terms of technology expertise, while at the same time it also helps you develop your next lesson plan.
The International Society for Technology in Education defines itself as a community of “global educators who believe in the power of technology to transform teaching and learning, accelerate innovation and solve tough problems in education”.
The ISTE Standards are a framework designed to guide students and teachers (but also educational leaders, coaches, and computational thinking) through a transformative process leading to better learning while using technology naturally.
Having started to use some of these standards in a few previous COETAIL units, I can say that these standards clearly outline the expectations both for the teachers and the students. I found out that they include more basic skills as well as high-level efficiency requiring skills, designing the path to a reach the ultimate goal of a successful technology integration.
Of course, there are more technology frameworks available out there, even if the ones above are considered the main ones. In his International EdTech Blog, Matt Harris presents a long list of the better known Educational Technology standards and frameworks. It is worth a look.
And you, which one(s) do you use at your school?
My School, Technology, and Integration
At the beginning of the 1990s, and for a few years, technology at my school, as in a lot of other places I believe, mainly meant tools used at the first SAMR level (Substitution).
I remember well the excitement when the High School Library acquired its first couple of computers for students to research encyclopedias on CDROMs! It felt like being part of the progress, but looking back, it was only a first step, and mainly swapping one format for another.
Slowly things started to move towards level two (Augmentation), but the first real shift appeared in the Fall of 2006, when becoming a 1:1 school. At first, grade 8 in Middle School and 10 in High School were piloting the program and each of those students, plus all teachers, received a portable laptop.
The full implementation of one-to-one devices started the following school year, in 2007-2008, for grades 7 to 12. Later on, laptop carts became available for Early Childhood Center (up to grade 2) and Elementary School (grade 3 to 6) classes.
For various reasons, a few in the ECC started to also use iPads, which eventually led to the decision of fully migrating the ECC and ES to iPads and Macs in 2017-18. Rather than a decision made by the IT department and the administration, it was clearly initiated by the users’ reflection and the motivation of the simplicity of its use by the school’s younger members, and the large range of apps available for this age-group students.
Soon there will be 30 iPads also available for occasional use in Middle and High School.
At my school, educational technology is definitely not an empty word, but I would say it is a never-ending journey, one that started quite a few years ago already, but as often the best scenic routes are the longest but the most effective ones at the end.
In 2015, the High School hired a part-time HS English/Technology Integration teacher was hired, and when leaving replaced in 2017, by a part-time technology Integration Specialist also teaching math. They both worked with students and teachers to help them implement the use of technology within the learning.
Another step forward was made in September 2019 when our current colleague was hired as Media Resource & Tech Integration Teacher, both for the MS and HS which was a sensible decision I felt, to bring better coherence across both schools. Shifting the offices around, and bringing him together in the same space as some of the IT Technicians and MHS Teacher-Librarians also facilitates mutual understanding of our jobs, and helps to achieve a culture of collaboration.
Another beauty of this COETAIL program: it actually encouraged me to initiate a conversation with him about frameworks, especially in the HS (grade 10 to 12), where teachers are well aware of the pedagogical content (see the TPACK model), but using education technology to the fullest can still be promoted. The IB (International Baccalaureat) program is indeed content-heavy, and teachers are therefore less brave sometimes to take to explore new tools and new ways.
Obviously, the pandemic and resulting lockdown, that lead to weeks/months of Distance learning, gave a considerable kick to all teachers to be on the same page for using some of the tech tools, and re-thinking their course delivery method. This is at least one thing positive to take away from this difficult and unprecedented situation.