Technology Integration
Using Technology in Ways that are Both Curriculum-Based and Future-Oriented

The challenge lies in using technologies in better ways to promote meaningful student learning!

Research Question           Research Process
Data Analysis/Interpretation     Research Contribution

Data Analysis/Interpretation

Observations of Personal Growth Process:

A few years ago, it was not uncommon for me to feel defeated at the end of the day when I was first learning to use technology in my classroom. For me, like most people, change was difficult. For a veteran teacher using traditional lecture and seatwork during the majority of my teaching time, merging technology, curriculum, and pedagogy made me feel like a first-year teacher again. The change process of first integrating technology could be described as beginning with survival, progressing through adjustment, and ultimately leading to some mature phase of effective functioning. At the survival stage, I began to use technology while experiencing a lack of confidence to try the new technologies, and used primarily print-based resources. Like a new teacher in survival mode, I was reluctant to try new things and experienced problems with discipline and resource management as they related to technology. The computers in the lab and library were often used for student rewards or free time activities such as playing games and exploring software. I implemented curriculum using traditional teacher-directed activities with blackboards, textbooks, and overhead projectors. In addition, technical problems also plagued me; I felt overwhelmed and intimidated by the new technology.

As I progressed through the adjustment phase, I began to show more concern about how technology could be integrated into daily curricular activities. I began to critically assess my assumptions about teaching and learning and explore options for new roles. Traditional whole group lecture and seatwork still tended to dominate my teaching strategies. Nevertheless, at this stage in my growth process, my students were being taught how to use technology. Assignments using keyboarding, word processing, or drill and practice software were common. I began to anticipate frustrating management problems and developed strategies to solve them. I also began to develop basic technology troubleshooting skills.

Once I reached the threshold of a more mature phase of effective technology functioning, I had a good command of integrating new technologies into my traditional classroom practice. I was learning more about planning and organizing technology-connected activities with my students. Although traditional teaching methods remained the dominant forms of classroom practice, there was marked increase in my students' use of word processors, databases, spreadsheets, graphic software, and computer-assisted instructional packages such as "Career Futures". Productivity became a major theme. My students were producing more quality work and at a faster rate. I was learning to use computers to save myself time, rather than creating additional demands. At this point, I understood how to plan for technology integration and had begun acquiring additional skills to meet the new demands. Understanding technology's usefulness, I applied it easily as a tool to accomplish real work, incorporating new teaching strategies that included project-based learning, cooperative group work, and uses of computers to support curriculum. Eventually, I began to experiment with new teaching patterns and began to see information more like something students must construct, and less like something to be transferred. With a repertoire of teaching and technology integration strategies, I started using a variety of these methods to create a rich learning environment for my students, and to help achieve a balance of activities for them. In addition, they helped to foster a supportive classroom climate. This was a climate where my students made choices, took responsibility, expressed themselves in a variety of ways, and created a community of learners. They worked together in more collaborative ways and served as experts to assist their classmates with both curricular and technical problems. Technology was playing an important role in increasing their motivation to learn, in helping them to visualize problems and solutions, in acquiring technology literacy, information literacy, and visual literacy, and, for me, in supporting a variety of teaching approaches such as co-operative learning, shared intelligence, and critical thinking.

One of the greatest benefits of integrating technology into my classroom practice was that the new and emerging technologies became something students learned with, not from. However, it was not computers alone that impacted their learning, but a teaching shift towards a student-centered classroom with more project-based activities and opportunities for collaboration and co-operation on life skills. With regards to technology integration, this learning environment allowed my students to engage in meaningful and useful activities through which learning was accomplished. This shift in pedagogy combined with appropriate and effective uses of technology made for a dynamic, rich project-based learning environment. Technology was incorporated into a variety of instructional events: to introduce material or gain attention, to extend understanding, to provide additional practice, to enrich learning, to provide closure, to assess learning, and to provide feedback. In addition, the design of our activities caused my role to change. Both direct teaching and teacher-as-facilitator were instructional strategies I used when integrating technology. Direct teaching was generally used to introduce material, clarify content-based misconceptions, or teach technology skills. I also acted as a facilitator and coach while my students were engaged in co-operative group work or in individual assignments.

Action Research Links