Integrating technology in school is an important part of professional development today. My experience with this subject comes from helping schools integrate our school management software. I see firsthand how important being able to successfully integrate a new technology is for schools. This week I thought it would be helpful to share some expert tips from Edutopia. Teachers, support staff, and administrators are all part of the equation. While teachers and administrators have different areas of focus, both groups create the culture which can foster technology integration and ultimately help further education.
What Does Technology Integration Mean?
Mary Beth Hertz explains it quite well on Edutopia.org.
“What do we really mean when we talk about “technology integration?” To me, the term means that technology is not taught as a separate class, but integrated into the classroom. It also means that students use technology to learn content and show their understanding of content, not just their expertise with a tool.”
Benefits From Supporting Technology Integration
- Schools improve the overall learning culture.
- Both staff and students learn how to take responsibility for contributing.
- Users become better consumers.
- Students learn to connect with formal and informal learning communities. They learn how to connect in a technology rich environment in a meaningful way.
- Students practice social learning.
“The key is to think about how technology improves the learning culture. How does it offer individuals the opportunity to take more responsibility for contributing? How does it make them be better consumers? How can technology increase their commitment by making audiences or experiences more real? Technology can help us increase the potential of all those things.” ~ Angela Maiers on Edutopia
Best Technology Integration Tips
My experience helping schools implement our school management software shows me the far reaching effects of providing support and professional development for technology integration. The best kind of support, I believe, is creating a leadership team that is consistently available. There are always a few people who find learning a new technology a bit easier. If they are interested in helping and are given the opportunity, then they can consistently give time to their colleagues and a lot of fear can be minimized. This also encourages participation from the whole school community in creating a culture that fosters technology integration.
I found some excellent expert tips here and from Josh Work’s article, “5 Tips to Help Teachers Who Struggle with Technology.”
- Build a Support Team: Help alleviate stress by creating a support team made up of teachers, support staff, and administrators. Your team should be available and flexible.
- Allow for Personalization: People grow and learn when they’re able to take ownership. Both students and teachers need to process their successes and failures and customize their approach.
- Professional Development: Develop a plan using input from the staff. Poll teachers and select one or two areas of PD to focus on all year. Make a concerted effort to help struggling teachers.
- Make Time: Administrators should allow teachers to meet and collaborate. Carve out dedicated time for tech PD.
- Make it Relevant: Create a meaningful plan to incorporate technology in PD. Focus on integrating technology into lesson plans. Create a culture where teachers can take risks. Not all lessons will go as planned – they need to reflect and learn.
- Encourage Them: Listen to your teachers and share their success. Just asking how its going every few days can be a huge support.
- Pace Your Classroom: Allow your teachers and students to learn, evolve and master before suggesting a new technology.
Have you been part of a support team for your school? What specific actions did you take to help your colleagues? Did you integrate a new technology into your classroom this year? How did your school community help?
FastDirect Communications provides a free support team for training and implementation of our school management system. Furthermore, we provide free continuing support for the whole school community: administrators, teachers, support staff, and families. This support allows you to reduce stress and time pressures placed on your in-house leaders.