I spent 3 years in South Carolina teaching French and trying my hardest to meaningfully integrate technology into my curriculum. Sometimes it worked really well. Other times, not so much. Sometimes lessons were redefined. Other times the tech was just a substitute. No matter the lesson, technology integration wasn’t the easy way out. It was frustrating, difficult and usually took more time. But the learning experiences that were created made all the hard work worth it.

146/365 square peg into a round hole
I’m now a Technology Integration Coach helping teachers meaningfully use technology in their classrooms. It’s actually been an even harder job. [Many] Teachers want the easy way out: they want me to hand them ready-made materials or ‘have an app for that.’ Technology integration needs to be more thoughtful than that and should be about choosing the best tool to fulfill lesson objectives. I see my job as continually challenging teachers to change the way they teach. As long as technology is seen as an extra, integration is not happening. Every single teacher in the entire world should read What is Technology Integration? (or “What Technology Integration is NOT”). That might sound a bit dramatic but this is pure gold:

I strongly believe that SAMR, TPACK and the TIM should be used together in order to guide teachers and leadership on effective technology integration. We have started slowly introducing SAMR to our staff and have created a resource page for teachers to access. One thing I like to stress to our teachers is that SAMR isn’t a hierarchy and not all of their lessons are going to be redefinition. My long term goals would include introducing TPACK and TIM to our staff as well.

Integration is an instructional choice that generally includes collaboration and deliberate planning – and always requires a classroom teacher’s participation. It cannot be legislated through curriculum guides no will it happen spontaneously. Someone with a vision – an administrator, a teacher, or a specialist – needs to model, encourage, and enable integration, but only a classroom teacher can integrate technology with content-area teaching.

Although I’ve learned about TPACK, I hadn’t read Mishra and Koehler’s article. These guys are cool. My two biggest takeaways that could benefit all educators:

  • “We would argue that almost everything that is artificial … is technology, whether low tech or high tech.”
  • Repurposing these cool tools for educational purposes, however, is not simple. If educators are to repurpose tools and integrate them into their teaching, they require a specific kind of knowledge.”

Technology is all around us and we need to be working hard and working smart in order to choose the best tool for the job. Technology isn’t a fad…it’s been around for centuries. But we, as educators, are continually being challenged to purposefully and meaningfully help our students learn with technology. Technology can most definitely make our job harder…but can’t it also make it better?