Bickering About the Technology I love

As a future tech coach and a student of the Computer in Education Learning program many people think that I want iPads with every lesson I teach as well as using every possibility I can to use technology in my future classroom. The truth is, I would not want technology to be that overwhelming in my classroom. Do not get me wrong, I think technology can be a very powerful tool that when used appropriately, can enhance and create new learning experiences for students that were once not possible without technology. However, teachers and schools should be weary of how they implement their technology to make sure they are transforming their lessons, instead of just enhancing it with technology.

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One of the most important parts I have learned about in the CEL program is the SAMR model. This technology integration model is a four level model that describes how well technology can be integrated into lessons and activities. The SAMR model comprises of four tiers:

  • Substitution: Direct substitute with no functional change
  • Augmentation: Technology that acts as a direct substitute with a little functional change
  • Modification: Technology allows for significant task redesign
  • Redefinition: Technology allows for the creation of new tasks and activities that were once not available without it.

I think that the SAMR model is something that all Tech Coaches and Technology Integration Specialist use on a daily basis because our job is to make sure technology is being used effectively and efficiently in the classroom. For technology to do that, the technology needs to be used in a way that transforms the lesson instead of just substitute the task.

According to Edudemic.com, there are five mistakes that schools make when they implement iPads in their schools:

  1. Focusing on content apps
    1. Teachers that teach certain subjects should not worry about not finding information on specific content, but they should find application that help creativity and efficiency in the classroom.
  2. Lack of teacher preparation in classroom management
    1. Teachers need to learn how to effectively use these devices in their classroom, most teachers think that when a new technology comes, is that they need to use it without understanding how to use that technology. Without guidance iPads become expensive textbooks with no content. Schools should provide professional development workshops and seminars to provide better opportunities
  3. Treating iPads as a laptop instead of its intended purposes.
    1. Schools will try to use iPads as a replacement for laptops, which are not what they are used for. They are to help students kinesthetically learn and mobile enough bring their information and technology places that laptops could not.
  4. Treating iPads like multi-user devices
    1. iPads were meant to be used as individual user devices and shouldn’t be used as school sets. However, many schools due to money problems have moved to school sets in carts. This causes problems in students being able to regularly use them as well as consistently using the iPads.
  5. Schools fail to communicate how they are using the iPads as well as fail to explain their plan to better educate students with them.
    1. Many schools end up purchasing iPads without explaining to the parents and supporters why they are using them and how this investment will create better learning for the students. Many schools emphasize the ability to use eBooks instead of having a powerful communication device, that can provide millions of media, and technology tool applications to students fingertips. Schools should understand how they will be using these devices before they decide on purchasing them.

One of the best examples of a failure of a school district to implement iPads into schools in Los Angeles Unified School District. One-Billion dollars was spent to make their schools 1:1 capable, 30 million going to the nations second largest school district alone. However, breaking rule two and rule five, without any guidance or schooling on how to use the iPads, many iPads were broken within the first week, hundreds were hacked and jail broken so the students could use they as they pleased. Teachers found themselves not being able to control their classrooms and were not using the iPads in meaningful ways. If you want to read more about this incident you can read HERE.

Now, while the first part of this blog post screams technology hater, trust me I am not. There are many examples of tech coaches that help prevent these kinds of technology integration disasters. One of them is a technology integration specialist at Naperville Central High school in Naperville Illinois.

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One of the main reasons I am in the CEL program is to understand how to successful and efficiently use technology in my future classroom. I hope that in addition to helping myself using technology correctly, I hope I can help other teachers in my school to integrate technology correctly. To understand what it is like to be a teacher like this I talked to a past teacher from high school Eric Kaisling that is a Technology Integration specialist for his Language and World Cultures department. He did not take any extra classes or obtain a CEL license from a school but he would attend different professional development presentations and conferences on technology integration. Because of that the school asked him to temporarily take the full time position, but then allowed him to also teacher four classes of spanish and then designate another hour for working for the department of world cultures and languages.

In our interview, Eric explains his basic everyday duties as a technology integration specialist and what the job entails. He describes that mainly will help teachers in his department incorporate technologies that they have at the school in their lesson. Each department has a technology integration specialist and they go to that person when they need help with a technology either integrating it or trouble shooting problems with that technology. An example of work he does is helping the language department use different voice recognition software that helps the students with AP testing and language testing. Naperville Central High School is not one to one iPad but it does have two iPad carts that can be checked out during periods, as well as multiple computer labs and even a world cultures and languages computer lab. Eric specializes in this lab and especially with the technology and software that goes along with it. The main technologies he uses is a VoiceThread, this is a voice recognition technology that the department uses to record natural language teachers as well as create assignments, lessons, tests, and practice activities.

In addition to helping teachers understand which software and technology will work for their classroom’s and lessons, he also helps search for grants that can be used to purchase these technologies. This ties back into using technology that transforms learning instead of simply doing the same task. Eric helps teachers find and use software in the language department that he knows helps students learn more then if they were not using the software. He is a large supporter of VoiceThread because it allows students to listen to native speakers, as well as reply with microphones and record their speaking. This allows teachers to individually tests students speaking and listening skills in their designated language. Eric recommended this technology because he understood that it could enhance and transform how the world cultures and languages department taught its students and incorporated much more active learning from native speakers, and having conversations in the language they are studying. For more information on Naperville Central and the way they incorporate their technology you can visit their website HERE.

Speaking with Eric showed me what the everyday life of a technology integration specialist is, how he juggles being a spanish teacher as well as helping other teachers in the department use more technology in their classrooms. He hopes to continue developing more as a technology integration specialist as well as helping other teachers.

I hope I can do what Eric does and be a technology integration specialist that still teaches and works with students, loves what technology can do, but is still understands that he shouldn’t just jump on every technology that is created. By helping be the one searching for grants and getting money for his department he has to make tough decisions on what is something that will transform the lessons into something that enhances the students learning and was not able to be done before the technology was introduced.

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While I do not think that everything about teaching should be dominated by technology, I do think that it is important and can be extremely beneficial in helping students learn. There are many ways for iPad integration can go wrong, but there is hope if people stray away from the five problems listed above. Thanks to Eric Kaisling, he was able to level my head and see there is hope for schools that want to integrate technology for the right reasons instead of just to have. He showed me the daily life of a technology integration specialist as well as explained what I might expect my job to be in the future, and I am very excited to say the least on the kind of impact tech coaches and tech integration specialist can make on a school if they use the SAMR model and use technology that helps transform lessons into something amazing.

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