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Teacher Models of Technology Integration

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\par Since 1995, 100 technology projects nationwide, consisting of partnerships among local school districts, universities and businesses, have been engaged in implementing five-year projects funded through the U.S. Department of Education's (ED) highly competitive Technology Innovation Challenge Grant (TICG) program. The program requires awardees to develop "innovative applications of technology and plans for fully integrating technology into schools."

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\par Abstracts, on ED's Web site, of the TICG projects awarded between 1995 and 2000 reveal that 34 projects specifically described technology integration as a focus of the project and another 12 referred to "technology-rich" curriculum, "technology infusion" or "embedding technology" into the teaching and learning process. As a result, the work done by these grantees is important in identifying models for teacher integration of technology, which may be shared or replicated by other districts in addressing No Child Left Behind's technology goals.

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\par This article, the first in a series of articles on the impact of TICG programs organized around major themes, will provide examples of best practices in technology integration from five TICG projects, representing school districts in 15 states.

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\par Professional Development

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\par According to Yepes-Baraya (2002), "Integrated technology is technology that supports and enhances the achievement of specific teaching and learning goals." In order to assist teachers in developing fluency in using technology in support of the teaching and learning process, most TICG projects engage in ongoing professional development activities. Two of these projects are AMERICA 2000 in Louisiana and the Regional Educational Technology Assistance (RETA) program in New Mexico.

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\par AMERICA 2000 employs a professional development model that targets training to ongoing needs assessments, as well as provides support for teachers as they develop fluency in integrating technology for project-based learning and real-world applications. Along with face-to-face workshops, the project delivers classroom-embedded online professional development workshops - focused on student-centered constructivist learning - that are delivered over a six to eight week period to provide training and support as teachers are applying new skills in their own classrooms. As a result, 94% of teachers surveyed said that the project has provided them with improved skills in the use of technology (Weston 2002).

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\par To evaluate the classroom impact of training, AMERICA 2000 employs a protocol during classroom observations to determine the degree of technology integration. This is based on students' and teachers' levels of skill and comfort in using technology to carry out instructional tasks. A recent project evaluation report states: "During year five observations, 92% of computer-using classes were observed to be proficient in their use of ... technology to a developmentally appropriate level. Classes also exhibited proficiency in the hands-on use of other project-pro-vided technologies, such as digital cameras, video cameras and graphing calculators" (Weston 2003).

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\par RETA also emphasizes the integration of technology into student-centered curricular activities during workshops that engage teachers in hands-on experience with a variety of hardware and software organized around a curriculum unit. Evaluators for the RETA project use a combination of surveys and a series of classroom observations to determine changes in teaching practices.

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\par According to Hupert et al. (2002), evaluation data showed that "RETA teachers altered their own and their students' use of and experience with technology to a significant (.01) level." For example, teachers reported increases in the amount of time they used e-mail and the Internet. They also planned more activities involving technology for their students.

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\par In addition, RETA teachers began to perceive their roles differently. During its fourth year, the RETA project evaluation reported "statistically significant indications that participation in RETA contributes to teachers altering how they teach lessons in classrooms, with teachers increasingly acting as facilitators during lessons or activities, and teachers increasingly using a group-work model for student participation" (Hupert et al. 2002). Figure 1, below, shows some of these observed changes in lesson formats during the school year.

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\par Collaborative Learning Applications

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\par Several projects are employing an integration model focused on collaborative learning projects involving distant partners. Alliance+ TICG (www.k12science.org/alliance), with training sites in Arizona, Florida and Ohio, has developed a model for integrating unique and compelling Internet applications into its curriculum. These applications include telecollaborative projects that involve student-to-student collaborations; the use of real-time data, such as live air-quality data from the Environmental Protection Agency; and publishing of student work online as a means for authentic assessment.

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\par The Lewis & Clark Rediscovery TICG Project (http://rediscovery.ed.uidaho.edu), a consortium of school districts extending from Wheeling, W.Va., to Astoria, Ore., uses the Lewis and Clark expedition as an interdisciplinary framework for the integration of technology. Participating teachers in two school districts in Montana have developed "Community Portfolios" describing 200 years of change along the Marias River, an important geographical feature of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

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\par Another model of teacher integration of technology through distance learning is The BorderLink Project in California (www.borderlink.org). This project has dual goals of learning from classroom teachers and disseminating knowledge gained from their experiences to other teachers and schools. BorderLink's Innovative Videoconferencing Project has gone to the source - classroom teachers - and invited them to develop original, significant models for integrating videoconferencing directly into their everyday teaching.

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\par Conclusion

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\par TICG projects have represented a major investment by the federal government since 1995. Local districts in partnerships with universities and local businesses have created classroom-tested tools and effective practices that can be used to inform other school districts as they search for research-based programs to meet the NCLB's technology goals.

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\par References

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\par Hupert, N., W. Martin, N. Admon and B. Adams. 2002. "RETA Program Year Four Evaluation." Center for Children and Technology Report.

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\par Weston, B. 2002. "Year Four Project Evaluation Report." AMERICA 2000 Education Document.

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\par Weston, B. 2003. "Observation of the Teaching and Learning Processes Ongoing in Project Classrooms: Year Five Addendum." AMERICA 2000 Education Document.

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\par Yepes-Baraya, M. 2002. "Technology Integration." In Assessing the Impact of Technology in Teaching and Learning: A Sourcebook for Evaluators. Ed. by J. Johnston and L.T. Barker. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.

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\par Online Resources

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\par Leinda Peterman, Director
\par AMERICA 2000 TICG
\par (lpete@nls.k12.la.us)\par \par \par }

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2003 issue of THE Journal.

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