When implementing technology in our schools, it becomes essential that lessons continue to be based on achieving a maximum level of student activity, rather than focusing on the skill of using the technology itself. One thing that stood out for me in the videos was how different teachers approached technology integration in their classrooms in terms of how they perceived and utilized the support of their colleagues. I continue to wonder how current perspectives impact the ways in which students, teachers and administrators form their attitudes and approaches toward learning and educational technologies. Teachers can no longer realistically expect to “know more about technology” than their students, and if teachers are unwilling to provide opportunities to their students to lead with their own technological expertise, they will always be limited by a sense of frustration much like that expressed by the retiring teacher in Video Case 5.
One of the challenges in effectively implementing technology to enhance student learning and experiences in our schools is to help support and educate our teachers about practical applications in terms of planning, authentic practice, and assessment. The terminology and endless usage of acronyms often intimidates and alienates students and teachers who are already feeling “behind” in terms of their perceived technological skills and knowledge. As a result, the reality is that many educators approach technology with apprehension and mistrust, and they feel a lack of support in planning/designing tasks for their students that integrate technology in meaningful ways into their classroom practice. In addition, there is a sense of being ostrasized if they ask questions or seek out support. As MET graduate students, I feel that we have a tremendous opportunity to bring a level of knowledge and experience into our schools to promote professional development and collaborative support in moving our pedagogy forward with regards to learning technologies.
In order for technology to be integrated and utilized for greater impact on student learning, schools also must be committed to supporting teachers through professional development, collegial support, and technical assistance. Without any one of these supports in place, the technology can not be used to its potential. This requires a significant commitment in terms of cost (monetary and time) on the part of school administration to ensure that a positive environment can be established and maintained to benefit students and staff.
The most successful schools that I’ve been at have enjoyed positive support from administration and the ability to promote and build teacher capacity with integrating technology amongst staff. As a technology lead at one of my previous schools, I was fortunate to have had a tremendous opportunity to help plan the purchasing and implementation of technology for elementary students and staff, and provide support and professional development around developing best practice and building teacher capacity. The amount of time and money that went into this work was phenomenal, and was not always greeted with cheers and enthusiasm, but ultimately provided staff at the school with the opportunity to start at their technology comfort level and then, with continued support, to move forward and push beyond their boundaries to learn more. Truly, without the organizational support and commitment from school administrations, many teachers wouldn’t have the opportunity or the desire to integrate technology into their daily practice.