It’s a Tool…

More and more lately I’ve been hearing the following phrase in educational circles when the topic of technology integration emerges in conversation:

 “Technology integration is not an instructional strategy”.  

I agree- sort of….

Technology, by its very nature, is designed to be embedded into teaching and learning. When used effectively, technology is embedded in learning- is seamless, integrated, and does not draw attention to itself. Technology as a tool for instruction becomes an integral part of learning.

What bothers me about the phrase quoted above, though, is that the conversation often ends up evaluating examples of entry level technology integration (as presented in the Technology Matrix – http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix ). These examples are often deemed to be “useless”, and therefore “ineffective for any long term change” and hence cannot be called an instructional strategy. I take exception to this lack of logical thought.

Every teacher needs a beginning point of entry with the embedding of technology into their learning and that of their students. Every one of us is unique. Every one of us brings our own experience into the classroom with every subject and with every learning activity. When it comes to using technology to enhance learning, we all have to start somewhere. I have witnessed so many entry points in my last few years as a technology coach. For some, the first step is simply having someone in their classroom to stand by if the wireless fails. For others, hooking up a projector is the first step along the pathway to tech integration. For others who are comfortable with technology, following another educator on Twitter might be the first step that will move them along the continuum of tech integration. Even something so small as a change in the physical configuration of a classroom can mirror a shift in thinking that ultimately changes the classroom climate forever where tech integration is concerned.

Allow me quote George Couros who recently wrote the following on his blog:

…if you want to innovate, you must disrupt your routine… if you want to change things in the classroom, you have to change the way we do things organizationally. People are more likely to embrace change when they experience it.

In my opinion, that’s what technology does. It disrupts. It changes a mindset. It provides the conduit for change. It needs to be experienced in order for the user to change. It might not be an instructional strategy in the truest sense of the phrase but changes in instruction can’t help but happen when educational technology is introduced.

Again, to quote George Couros, “With little changes in the way that we do the things we have always done, you can start a ripple that can lead to a big wave.”

Where can you begin to embed technology into what you have always done in your classroom? What can you change in your instructional practice? Where will you begin?

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