Tuesday, June 14, 2011

5 Necessary Pieces for Incorporating Technology in Instruction

This is an interesting article about training future teachers to incorporate technology into their classrooms: http://www.convergemag.com/training/The-University-of-Iowa-Opens-Teacher-Leader-Center.html?elq=c0f5e557c22844e3a99eda95c58bd744

At Juniata College I helped with an instructional technology course for future teachers. It was one of the most popular courses on campus, even for non-education majors. Students coming back from their student teaching experience would talk about how they helped their sponsoring teacher learn new instructional technologies that they themselves had learned to use in the "Ed Tech" course.

For the past couple of days I've been pondering how to help teachers learn about and become competent with new technologies and have come to the conclusion that several pieces need to be in place:

1. There has to be a need for the technology. Technology, whether it's hardware or software, is learned best when it's learned in context and used immediately in response to an immediate need.

2. The technology has to be readily available. If it's a shared piece of equipment that has to be scheduled and reserved, it's not going to be incorporated into instruction effectively. The technologies that are incorporated effectively are the ones that are available for use immediately when the need presents itself.

3. The technology and the use of the technology for instruction has to be supported. If something breaks or isn't working as expected, there need to be resources available in a timely manner to replace or repair the technology. Resources also need to be readily available to help teachers learn to use hardware and software as well as to share experiences and information about using the hardware and software. Expecting teachers to use their own resources to purchase and support a technology they want to use in their classroom is haphazard, unrealistic, and not sustainable.

4. The technology has to be kept up to date. New versions need to be readily available. Users have to learn to not just expect change, but to embrace it. Always having to beg for a newer version or upgrade is demoralizing, discouraging, and frustrating. It sends a clear message that making effective use of technology for instruction is not a priority and is not valued.

5. There needs to be a clearly defined process for teachers to follow to bring technology into their classrooms. This process needs to have the support of administration as well as resources for moving through each step. Advocating for and facilitating the acquisition of technology for use in instruction has to be someone's full-time job.

The final line in the article is: "Technology's moving awfully rapidly, and to just stand still is to be moving backwards pretty rapidly."

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