In September 2009, my observations at a local middle school’s computer lab has led me on a nine-month quest to find answers to the following:
What is technology integration? Why should teachers integrate technology in the classroom? What effective strategies exist to encourage higher levels of teacher technology integration? How can these strategies be used?
These questions formed the basis of my action research project for my graduate research seminar. With the help of my Twitter Professional Learning Network (PLN), I was able to find a wealth of information and resources to share. Thank you, Twitter PLN, for our wonderful Skype sessions, for letting me pick your brains, and for putting up with all of my questionnaires and surveys! Listed below is the Recommendations–a compilation of everyone’s advice– section from my research paper.
7 WAYS TO INCREASE TEACHER TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION IN THE CLASSROOM
1. Create a clear vision of what an ideal classroom with integrated technology looks like. Individual teachers can design their own technology growth development plans by outlining their expectations for the school year. Take out the school’s mission statement and your learning objectives. How does the technology fit in? Align learning objectives with the appropriate tools, and list 1-2 new tools you would like to use in the classroom. Set small measurable goals. Focus on one goal at a time. Schedule time during the week to practice with the tools.
2. Build an on-campus professional learning network. Befriend the staff in the technology department. Individual teachers can form small study groups with colleagues to sign up for professional development courses, attend conferences and programs together, swap literature, and share ideas for lesson plans, materials, and resources. Visit and observe each other’s classrooms. Encourage one another to host informal workshops, demonstrations, or tutoring sessions during breaks or after school. Encourage each other to develop and lead professional development sessions.
3. Build an online professional learning network. Learn how to set up a Twitter account or a profile on one of the social networking platforms. Connect with other educators and join education-related groups. When you feel more comfortable, expand your network to include artists, scientists, authors, etc., to create a more well-rounded learning network. Make a commitment to spend a few minutes a day or a half hour on weekends to browse through the current articles, materials, and links shared on your network stream. When you feel more comfortable reading the resources on your social networks, don’t just lurk! Try your hand at leaving 1-2 comments on a blog or join in a group discussion. Share your own articles and resources. Jump in on a live online chat with other educators, administrators, and parents.
4. Invest in yourself. Read, read, and read! Subscribe to technology journals and publications. Open an aggregator account like Google Reader and subscribe to educational blogs, online magazines, and newsletters. Search for online tutorials and videos. Use open content sources. Follow along with free university online classes, or take your time with open courseware. Attend free webinars and free virtual conferences whenever you can.
5. Expand your learning network to the classroom. Harness your students’ creativity and ingenuity. Involve your students by asking them how they best learn, how they network outside the classroom, and what technology tools they are using for their hobbies and personal use. Allow them to be your technology tutors by encouraging them to share their tips and tricks. Set up monthly technology show-and-tells in the classroom. Ask students to do a tutorial for you (and later, for parents and staff!) Search for videos, pod-casts, vod-casts and other useful tutorials together and create a class technology knowledge-base on a class website, social bookmarking site, or wiki-space.
6. Publish, publicize, and advertise your students’ technology-related work.Create a classroom website or a wiki-space to share ideas, tutorials, and class projects. Share the links with parents, administration, faculty, and local community. Make your classroom transparent: invite them to your classroom to see what the students are learning and doing. Distribute a monthly newsletter, or create a photo album, or put together a portfolio to share what you have done to integrate technology in your classroom. Share these with your colleagues and your professional learning networks. Ask for constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement.
7. Develop a reflective practice with your integration of technology in the classroom. Keep a small notebook to jot down initial thoughts and impressions of particular tools or certain issues. Follow up your implementation of technology tools in a lesson plan or activity with a reflection on its strengths, weaknesses, successes and areas that can be further improved. Remember to include samples of formative and summative student assessments. Ask for and include student responses/quotes in your evaluations. Write about your personal journey into technology integration. Reflect on your technology growth development plan. Consider signing up for and setting up an online blog and linking it to your professional learning networks. Continue to encourage discussions with your colleagues and networks.
Above is a link to a Wallwisher that was distributed to my Twitter PLN. I used it as a digital handout for my research presentation. Check it out! If you have a Wallwisher account, I encourage you to add a post-it! There is also a short list of great tutorials on how to develop online professional learning networks and teacher blog posts on technology integration below. If you know of any good resources, please share in the comments!