What does technology integration look like? Seems like a perfectly good question to ask given that the majority of schools are finding ways to put devices into the hands of students and teachers. Maybe a better question to ask is what technology integration should not look like. Possible answers to this question include using devices to help students prepare for online standardized tests or asking every student to create a project using the same website. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with these examples, as long as they are used sparingly. But this does not get the masses, your students, excited about learning. Technology integration must be intentional, have a purpose, and excite students about the topic at hand. Of course, this is easier said than done.
Say you have a class set of iPads that could possibly transform your lesson. What does this look like? For starters, students could participate in a QR Code activity where they can scan and learn. Take things a step further and have students create their own QR Code project that their peers could use to learn about the topic at hand. As a teacher, try utilizing the Plickers app to assess students’ knowledge. You could also turn your classroom into a game show by playing a game of Kahoot. This competition-based assessment tool allows for teachers or students to create or share content. One “out of the box way” to making learning fun and engaging is to have students download the Flipgrid app. This will provide them with an opportunity to share their thoughts on a topic through a recorded video clip that is uploaded to a private classroom for all to see.
What about a 1:1 Chromebook setting? Google Apps for Education provides students with a multitude of ways to collaborate, research, and create content. The Google Cultural Institute is great way to learn about a particular person, place, or thing. For example, if your students are learning about Frederick Douglass they can access primary source documents, images, biographical information, quotes, and online exhibits pertaining to his life. A simple thing like note taking can be brought to life by utilizing Google Draw. Teachers or students can create graphic organizers to aid in understanding key concepts about the topic at hand. YouTube Live can provide many functionalities for students and teachers. Conduct a mystery location call, flip your math classroom, recreate a historical event, or stream important events for all stakeholders to enjoy. The tools and ideas shared above are just the tip of the iceberg.
Coupled with pedagogically sound teaching, technology integration can move a learning environment from good to great. Some helpful resources that will acclimate you to this way of life include John Hattie’s Visible Learning, Eric Sheninger’s UnCommon Learning, The National Education Technology Plan, and All Hands on Deck: Tools for Connecting Educators, Parents, and Communities. Twitter is a great tool as well when looking for great ideas and resources by way of hashtags like #Satchat and #EdTechChat. Consider checking out 140 Twitter Tips for Educators for a step by step guide on how to infuse Twitter into your professional life. Attending your local EdCamp or a conference like the Tomorrow’s Classrooms Today Conference will provide opportunities for educators to network and come away with best practice techniques that could impact student success when using technology.
There is no doubt that this is one of the most exciting times in education because of the possibilities that technology provides to enhance student learning experiences. It’s all about taking a risk and stepping out of your comfort zone. Balance between the tech and non tech world is critical as well. Providing students choice to learn and show what they know needs to be a top priority. When it’s all said and done, teachers need to be excited to teach and students need to be excited to learn. Technology can be a game-changer if integrated correctly.