Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Common Misconception #7 Knowing Everything in Order to Integrate Technology

I Have to Know Everything About the Technology in Order to Integrate it in the Classroom.

The great thing about so many of the new technology resources available to educators is that generally each resource offers so much and so many different options that we don't have to learn everything about it before we use it.

I can think of a personal experience when I discovered Prezi.  I really did not grasp the idea of a 3D infinite canvas.  I put all my notes on the same "plane" and in a circle and then presented the presentation I created in a meeting.  It did not get a good reaction, but teachers did see an alternate to Power Point.  I went back to Prezi after it changed its editor and learned more about it.  I used it as it was intended, and the reaction to the software was much better.  I did not know everything about it, but enough that I felt comfortable enough to use it and present with it.  Now Prezi is one of my favorite new tools.

So often with many of the Web 2.0 tools I try it, find a way to use it, and while using it discover something new about it that makes the resource even better.  Originally, with the social bookmarking site Diigo, I hated the extra features of post-it notes and highlighter.  I just wanted to save links, so I went with Delicious.  After switching to Diigo recently, I realized how much more it offered me and how much more I could use it other than just a way to save links.  I needed to use it first to realize everything it could do that I could use.

If you wait till you read about it, watch videos about it, and wait for someone else to use the resource the opportunity for integration will pass you by.  THE BEST WAY to learn how to integrate technology is to just step out and start using it.  Once you use it, it will become more comfortable.  Fear of failure or mistakes because you don't know everything means that you could miss out on new and innovative ways to use technology.  We learn from our attempts and our failures.

Through my position I have had the opportunity to share several Web 2.0 resources with teachers.  The ones that jumped in and started integrating the tools had the most success.  I found it easier for them to start using it and then ask questions, then for me to try to explain everything and then they use it.  Since I explained it to them and they took notes, they were intimidated to ask for more help.  The teachers that jumped right in are also the same teachers who ended up using the same tools and other tools for future projects with their students.  The teachers who feared the technology and were unsure of everything ended up having less success with the resources and generally struggled with integrating technology in their classroom.  Technology integration REQUIRES self-reliance on your part.

Technology is constantly changing.  You cannot know everything about a technology resource.  Since most of the software is fairly new, companies are constantly updating and tweaking their product.  If you wait to learn everything about a resource it will change before you ever get started.  If you have an understanding of the resource, adapting to the constant change makes things easier.  I look back at my Prezi experience.  When they changed the editing tool and other options, I found myself liking it more and being more comfortable using it.

There is a reason that I titled this Blog, "The Pursuit of Technology Integration Happiness."  It is difficult to be completely happy when it comes to technology integration.  There is one thing you can count on with technology and that is that it is always changing.  This change creates a constant pursuit in finding successful ways to integrate technology.  Happiness in technology integration is a willingness to work at learning new things.  I don't have to know EVERYTHING about technology integration to be happy.  It is the pursuit of successful technology integration that creates happiness; because once that light bulb goes off in a teacher/student, or a project is enhanced using technology, there is no greater feeling for a person in my position.

Teachers, YOU WILL NEVER KNOW EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION AND RESOURCES.  The great thing is, you don't need to know 100% about the resource when you only plan on using 25% of its capabilities.  Remember, learn how to use the resource to meet your needs, then allow for exploration.

What are your thoughts and experiences when it comes to teachers feeling the need to have an understanding of EVERYTHING when it comes to technology integration?
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