Sunday, January 22, 2012

Just What Does it Mean to Integrate Technology - Part II

In a recent post I asked the question: "Just What Does it Mean to Integrate Technology?"  I have often wondered what that meant, especially since returning to the classroom.  I remember when I first started teaching (JUST 9 years ago by the way) integrating technology meant anything that you plugged in was using technology, and none of the integration focused on student use of the technology and the idea of "Digital Natives" was a term not even in our vocabulary yet.

In 2012 more emphasis is being placed on student use of technology.  I currently have a student teacher and she had ZERO classes that focused on technology in the classroom, at least from a Web 2.0 sense.  There were classes that mentioned and showcased hardware, but not ALL schools have the hardware, but do provide access to the FREE software available on the web.  I mentioned to my student teacher TinyURL, and she had never heard of it.  It really got me thinking what else she had not heard of.  It also got me thinking that if technology integration is going to be vital to teacher evaluations and student success, why are more universities not offering/requiring classes in the teacher education program?  If student use of technology is going to be something focused on, future teachers need to know about a lot of it first, or AT LEAST be introduced to where they can learn and find out about the great tools out there.  Twitter is a great starting point by the way!

Student use of technology also brings up an interesting aspect as well.  Just what will we consider student use.  As I mentioned in the previous post, several school districts consider just placing an assignment under a document camera and showing it to the class as "student use."  Most of us with integration specialist experience know and will agree that is hardly "integrating" technology.  But in 2012, is creating a simple Power Point student use of technology anymore?

Most students still use Power Point in schools because most teachers know how to use it.  Since teacher education programs are not focusing on the new options, neither will the students because they won't be introduced to it, or because the teacher does not know about it, and therefore does not want the student using it. If students are still going to be using Power Point, then we should go beyond simple creation and require students to add music, add voice over and timing, video integration, etc.

When you think about student use of technology, we should be encouraging video and audio editing in projects.  Students should record multiple aspects of a project and then work on editing them together.  Students should be creating cartoons and comics and piecing stories together.  Students should be taking the airliner in their hands and running presentations and drawing over worksheets and highlighting text.  Students should be collaborating over the web and using tools to communicate with each other and the teacher about assignments.

Technology Integration is no longer just about the tools we plug in.  It is about the tools in the cloud that are always plugged in and available for student use.  So just what does it mean to have students use technology?
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