Friday, March 28, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: What is Technology Integration?

Episode 12 of Wicked Decent Learning has a great discussion about what is and is not technology integration. I was glad to hear Jeff and Dan say what I've been saying to people in my school district, "throwing your lecture notes on to PowerPoint is not technology integration." (Yes, Jeff and Dan I am paraphrasing). I actually said to an educational consultant this week, "1995 called, they want their technology back." This consultant had suggested to me that students put together PowerPoint shows as a final project. While PowerPoint is a fine program and for many teachers it does represent using technology, it is an outdated technology in the eyes of today's students. No matter how cool or pretty or how many transitions you put into a PowerPoint, today's students are not impressed by it or engaged in learning through it.

As "the tech guy" at my school (unfortunately,not a real job title or paid position) I was asked to play with the one new SmartBoard the school purchased. Like any good employee I did what I was told and took it to my room to try it out. I have to say that while the SmartBoard is kind of fun to play with, using a SmartBoard in the classroom does not constitute integrating technology into the classroom.

So then what is technology integration? Technology Integration is using technology resources that engage students in active learning. Students watching PowerPoint presentations or watching something on a SmartBoard while taking notes and listening to a teacher is passive learning. Students making a PowerPoint presentation is active learning but, as I stated earlier, in the eyes of today's students PowerPoint is outdated and generally doesn't get them too excited about a project. A technology application that asks students to expand their 21st Century skills is a technology application that provides an engaging and active learning experience. Wikis, video mash-ups, podcasts, collaborative drawing and writing tools, are all examples of technology applications that students can use to create products as a part of an active learning experience.