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One Size Does Not Fit All

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As the technological age continues to render traditional classroom practices obsolete, many educators are still untrained and apprehensive when it comes to technology integration. Therefore, a paradigm shift is needed that requires more than just a quick-fix staff development solution, especially since the No Child Left Behind Act stipulates that educators must be “highly qualified” by the end of the 2005-06 school year. This leads to the expectation that teachers will create learning environments which challenge and broaden their students’ comprehensive use of technology.

But easy access to computers or labs d'es not always guarantee integration of technology into teachers’ lesson plans. This is illustrated in research from the National Center for Education Statistics (Stats in Brief: Teacher Use of Computers and the Internet in Public Schools, 2000, nces.ed.gov/pubs2000/2000090.pdf), which found that although 99 percent of full-time public school teachers had computer and Internet access in their schools, only 39 percent were integrating technology into their lessons. And when asked about preparation, 33 percent of public school teachers felt they were well prepared to use computers and the Internet in their teaching, while 66 percent felt somewhat or not at all prepared to use this technology.

So, it should come as no surprise that while many principals want to improve technology integration in their schools, they just do not know how or where to begin. They realize that to promote meaningful technological changes, their teachers must be given opportunities to acquire the skills needed to use technology and then apply them in the context of the curriculum (Trevor Shaw, “Professional Development Potluck: Successful Programs Offer a Dish for Every Taste,” MultiMedia Schools, 2003). However, technology professional development is usually delivered by district-level personnel as “one-size-fits-all”workshops that focus on techniques for using software packages and management tools. These workshops often are not part of a cohesive improvement plan; thus, instructional changes are not adopted or sustained over time. >

Technology integration model. Ultimately, the best solution in most cases is relying on in-house professional development to increase the number of teachers who can integrate technology into their curricula comfortably and effectively. The following five-step Technology Integration Model for developing, implementing, and sustaining technology integration draws upon the work of Fred Wood, Joyce Killian, Frank McQuarrie, and Steven Thompson (How to Organize a School-Based Staff Development Program, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1993).

Stage 1: Planning

Success hinges on the development of a coherent, long-term professional developmentplan that focuses on desiredchanges. A professional developmentteam (PDT) consisting of administrators,teachers, staff, community members,students, and parents should develop theplan and guide all aspects of the initiative.The PDT should consider examiningtechnology benchmarks, standards, andother recommendations from professionalorganizations such as theInternational Society for Technology inEducation. In addition, the PDT shouldmeet with faculty members to discusstheir needs and expectations, visit otherschools, and consult district technologycoordinators. By assessing existing practices,the PDT is empowered to develop aTechnology Integration Plan thataddresses goals and objectives designed tomeet targeted outcomes.

Resources for Developing a Technology Integration Professional Development Initiative

ResourceWeb Site
Technology Integration - www.sedl.org/pubs/tec26/flash.html

Technology Professional Development - www.ncrel.org/tech/tpd/index.html

Staff Development Guiding Questions - www.ncrel.org/tech/tpd/res/sdtemplate1.htm

Leadership Guidelines - www.sedl.org/change/facilitate/leaders.html

Staff Development Models - www.nsdc.org/library/publications/jsd/sparks104.cfm

Teacher Self-Assessment - www.bham.wednet.edu/technology/documents/staffrevisedmnkto2004.pdf

ISTE National Educational Technology Standards - http://cnets.iste.org

Stage 2: Preparation

As part of the plan, the PDT will make decisions concerning training and implementation. The PDT must also prepare all aspects of the project and determine who will participate, what strategies and delivery modes will be used, and how the initiative will be evaluated. Rather than designing one-size-fits-all professional development sessions, training should be offered at appropriate skill levels so novices and skilled users do not become overwhelmed or bored. >

A teacher self-assessment instrument should be administered to faculty during the preparation phase to determine teachers’ proficiency levels as related to targeted knowledge and skills. Once this has been done, teachers can identify individual goals and objectives, and then choose specific workshops designed to meet their needs. These teachers need access to peer and mentor coaching and should assist in the development of action plans for implementation. Expert teams, consisting of technically competent teachers, also can be used to tutor and mentor individual faculty members on specific strategies and skills.

Once the Technology Integration Plan has been developed, it should be presented to the entire faculty for discussion, modification, and approval at the end of the preparation phase. Remember that input from stakeholders is important to the overall success of the initiative, and if faculty members are involved from the beginning, they will be more supportive and more willing to participate in the process later on. Finally, do not expect everyone to agree with the plan or be willing to participate in the initiative. Michael Fullan (Leading in a Culture of Change, Jossey-Bass, 2001) recommends that the concerns of the dissenters be recognized, addressed, and used to draw them in. If their concerns are not addressed, changes will be harder to actualize and sustain over time.

Sample Lesson Plans for Technology Integration

ResourceWeb Site
ISTE National Education Technology Standards for Students - http://cnets.iste.org/search/s_search.html

4Teachers.org - www.4teachers.org

Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators (Discovery School) - http://school.discovery.com/schrockguide/edles.html

Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning - www.mcrel.org/lesson-plans/index.asp

Stage 3: Instruction

The instructional stage should occur on-site at a school using the equipment and software normally available to teachers. Placing teachers into learning teams based upon their interests and skill levels will facilitate peer coaching and collaboration, while reducing isolation and frustration. Teachers must have designated times for planning, practicing, and sharing. They also should be allowed to “test out” of training on particular skills or applications. Optional tasks for these teachers might include developing and presenting demonstration lessons, or serving as mentors to new users.

Active involvement by the principal and other administrators in the instructional stage is crucial. By participating, administrators discover new possibilities for teaching and learning, as well as share the difficulties or challenges teachers may be experiencing. In addition, administrators are more credible if they develop the skills they hope to observe teachers incorporating into their instruction.

Stage 4: Refinement

For successful integration, it is essential that teachers have access to necessary resources (e.g., hardware, software, and peripherals such as digital cameras). Support is also mandatory, and members of the PDT should be available for mentoring, assistance, and feedback. Through interactions and observations, the PDT can study the impact of change on teaching and learning, as well as provide follow-up activities, including meeting with peers or members of the expert team to share experiences, seek solutions, or re-teach specific skills and strategies, to improve implementation. Throughout this model, it is important for teachers to consider their personal goals and the changes they must make to reach those aspirations. If teachers are having difficulties meeting their personal goals, additional training and support may be necessary.

Stage 5: Evaluation

Both formative and summative evaluation procedures are recommended to assess the initiative’s impact on teaching and learning (Thomas Guskey, “The Age of Our Accountability,” Journal of Staff Development, 1998, www.nsdc.org/library/publications/jsd/guskey194.cfm). Formative data can be used to measure the ongoing effectiveness of the Technology Integration Plan by comparing data to established benchmarks. Summative data collection is used to measure the outcomes against the goals and objectives to decide the merits of the program based upon the final results. Unfortunately, decision-makers sometimes skip the formative evaluation process and go straight to summative evaluation. If this occurs, evaluators miss valuable opportunities to examine current realities and make adjustments along the way. In the end, outcomes may not match expectations and programs may be discontinued.

Summary

This article began with a description of how America’s schools are changing in instructional delivery and expectations, but access alone is not enough. Without effective professional development, which includes clear expectations, mentoring, and practice, technology integration will not be realized, and the current situation will not change to facilitate 21st century learners.

School leaders know that lasting instructional change is difficult to develop and maintain. However,sustainable changes can occur through development of long-term goals and objectives, involvement of representative stakeholders, an inclusive implementation time line, and comprehensive formative assessment procedures.

It’s also important to remember that change takes time, and a realistic Technology Integration Plan should span three to five years. During this time, administrators must be patient, diligent, and attentive. Through strong vision and leadership, the number of educators who can integrate technology effectively into their teaching practices will increase, which will ultimately lead to higher levels of student achievement.

Janice Hinson, Ed.D., is the coordinator of the educational technology specialization in Louisiana State University’s College of Education. Kimberly LaPrairie is a doctoral student at LSU, specializing in educational technology. Janet Cundiff is the technology coordinator and a drafting teacher at Woodlawn High School in Baton Rouge, LA.

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2005 issue of THE Journal.

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