The five W's of Tech Integration
Updated: Sep 3
Despite one’s feelings of allegiance to or negation of the role of technology within school systems, technology will continue to play an integral role in education for the foreseeable future. I write this reflection as I am seated at my office desk in the public school in which I am employed. This past Friday, August 28, 2020, we were informed that our students would be working in a fully remote setting due to the rise of CoVid-19 cases in our school. As of the time of this publication, I have 10 students who have tested positive since August 27th.
The school district in which I am employed hosts a 1:1 initiative with Apple iPads for our students since 2013. On March 13, 2020, an announcement was made 20 minutes before the end of the instructional day for our student body. They were told to report to their lockers and gather all materials they would need for the next two weeks. Needless to say, those two weeks morphed into the remainder of the school year. Our school, unlike all the neighboring school districts, continued with instruction the following week without missing a beat. While instruction was definitely “different” in an online environment, students were able to “tread water” and not lose skills due to the usual “summer slump”.
As I sit here today, on day one of the new year with my students again joining me in a virtual realm, I will openly admit that the learning that is taking place is not traditional for a choral program. With great applications like Zoom and our learning management system [LMS] Canvas, my students are able to meet with me to prepare for a day when we might once again meet in person for classes.
As I read the articles for this week’s class, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the opposing viewpoints of the two articles. In my current status (waiting for students to sign onto Zoom), there is a certain amount of intrinsic drive that secondary students must have to be successful in the virtual world. The parents and guardians, mostly, are otherwise invested and the students are left to manage their learning without the “nagging” of an adult or the “nudging” of an in-person instructor. In the article we read by Sean Coughlan, technology “has raised too many false hopes” was posited for the reader. From my 30,000-foot view as a public educator and a graduate assistant in Instructional Design and Technology for Davis College at WVU, I agree with this statement. Many administrators in public education are excited to place devices in the hands of students and teacher but neglect to properly train the users on the uses of those devices. Furthermore, the expectations of the teaching staff is that they are to fully integrate new technologies and applications with a fervor befitting of a “distinguished educator”. Many teachers who wish to receive the best scores are “shoe-horning” technology into classes that are, perhaps, best taught in a traditional setting without technology. The implementation of technology has become a priority in the curriculum. The Coughlan article “shows ‘there is no single country in which the internet is used frequently at school by a majority of students and where students' performance improved’”. (Coughlan, 2015) The building blocks for learning must be established (factual knowledge) in order to successfully advance to higher-order tasks (synthesis). While technology “looks” impressive to the shareholders in education, schools must undertake correct implementation of technology that fosters learning and it not forced for appearance sake.
Educational institutions must not only provide personalized professional development in technology implementation for its teachers, it needs to also strongly encourage participation for those teachers. In public education, teachers need to be held accountable for continued professional development. Instruction offered needs to be tailored to meet the current ability levels of the individual teachers. Through offering a personalized experience through either an institutional program or one from an external vendor (Modern Teacher is the selected company of my current district), teachers will begin to understand how to properly implement technology as a tool to assist in learning and not as a “niche toy” that looks impressive but lack curricular support. Technology should never be integrated simply to say that, indeed, it IS implemented. There is a logical reason for its usage.
As we continue wandering throughout the virtual landscape as CoVid-19 has removed us from our brick-and-mortars, it is imperative to consider the essential use of each additional application we bring to learning environment. I posit that each educator should return to “the 5 W’s” as they consider choosing to add new technology into their curriculum. Only upon examination of the feasibility of adding new technology should it be seriously considered. It is easy to become overwhelmed with possible applications that can only further obfuscate the intended learning goals. Through thoughtful, criteria-driven inquisition and personalized professional development, it is possible to have a successful tech integration.
Bernard, Z. (2017, December 27). Here's how technology is shaping the future of education. Retrieved August 31, 2020, from https://www.businessinsider.com/how-technology-is-shaping-the-future-of-education-2017-12
Coughlan, S. (2015, September 15). Computers 'do not improve' pupil results, says OECD. Retrieved August 31, 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/news/business-34174796