Improving Technology Implementation in Grades 5-12 With the ASSURE Model

by DR. JAMES D. RUSSELL, Professor DR. DENNIS SORGE, Outreach Coordinator and DIANNA BRICKNER, Research Assistant Purdue University West Lafayette, Ind. Most middle schools and high schools have computers and other technologies. However, are they being implemented for maximum effectiveness? Teacher training is an important ingredient in improving technology implementation. Technology is defined to include computer software and mediated materials such as videotapes, slides and overhead transparencies. At a 1991 conference at Purdue University on "Reform in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education," the following needs were highlighted: Identify information on current and emerging technologies for teaching high school. Provide inservice on organizing team teaching and developing motivational strategies. Conduct workshops for school staff on implementing technology at school sites. Develop a database of innovative programs and conduct inservice on them. We decided to address the third need in the above list and have designed and implemented a series of workshops for middle-school teachers. Workshops for Middle School During the 1993-94 school year, a series of six workshops are being provided for teachers in three rural school corporations. Primary funding for these workshops is provided by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education through the Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Education Act. Much insight into the importance and techniques of effective implementation of technology was gained from a former project, PALOS: Mathematics, which developed implementation strategies for using interactive video for mathematics instruction in a variety of settings from individual students to full classes. We decided to share the lessons we have learned through a series of workshops. The purposes of these workshops are to: Establish an educational vision and long-range plan for use of technology in middle schools. Empower school corporations and teachers to conceptualize "action plans." Develop awareness and understanding of the change process inherent in implementing technology in education. Identify local, school-specific needs for implementing technology to improve learning by middle-school students. Demonstrate how teachers can use technology to transform their classrooms into active learning environments. What the Literature Reveals Research shows that change in schools requires leadership, staff development, modification of the organizational structure, and the involvement of people from all aspects of the educational system.1 The process of change must also be integrated into any reform initiative. When interventions are not integrated into the change process, the innovation implementation efforts are often unsuccessful.2 Our experiences in curriculum research, development and dissemination have shown clearly that for effective change to take place, much more than published research findings, curriculum guides or curriculum materials is needed. For instance, prior to 1970, the focus of school change was primarily on adoption of materials. Educators assumed that program implementation followed an "industrial model"; that changing a curriculum involved simply adopting a new program, installing it with minimum staff development and assuming widespread use.3 It was found, however, that simply making the decision to use a new program d'es not necessarily result in implementation and intended use of that program in classrooms.4 Fullan has described the period from 1970-1980 as one of "documenting failure.


"3 In fact, it was not until 1971 that the first research appeared analyzing the problem of implementation.5 Even the term "implementation" was not used much prior to 1970. Fullan points out that during this period we learned about what not to do. Do not ignore training; do not ignore local leaders and opinion setters; do not implement large, vague innovations; adoption by organizations d'esn't tell us about how individuals act in classrooms; reported use d'es not mean actual use; and so on. The "industrial view" did not fit the school setting. A new "educational view" began to emerge in which the focus of implementation was on the activities and interactions within the school. In 1975, Berman and McLaughlin coined the term "mutual adaptation" to describe the adjustments among teachers and schools as well as the innovations that are all necessary for successful implementation.6 Steps to Success Six years of experience implementing computer technology with adult learners (documented twice),7,8 combined with ongoing workshops for middle-school teachers, have clearly delineated the steps necessary to successfully change the way technology is used in schools.9 The steps include: Workshops distributed throughout the academic year that demonstrate integration of emerging technologies in education, cooperative learning techniques and strategies for implementing technology in classrooms; On-site visits between workshops, which include interaction with teachers, classroom observations, assistance with instruction and modeling of technology implementation; and Proposal development to obtain funds for further implementing technology. Various forms of technology have always been a part of education -- pencils, paper, books, chalkboards, copy machines and other innovations. Selecting the appropriate type of technology for instruction requires knowledge of the full variety of available technology and its uses and limitations. School corporation mandates have often forced teachers into premature use of technology for the sake of using it rather than because it performed a genuine instructional function. Our series of workshops is designed to provide teachers with training and experience (via hands-on computer time) to develop their skills and enhance their self confidence before putting technology into their classrooms. Workshops: What and Who Six workshops are held at each site during the academic year to aid the implementation of technology for improving instruction. A dozen or so participating teachers is an optimum size for six full days of inservice. We have found that effective implementation requires an extensive program for a selected few rather than a superficial yet intensive, one-day presentation to many people. Workshops include presentations, demonstrations, small-group discussions and hands-on experiences. Each participant receives a notebook of handouts to facilitate implementation of the ideas and techniques in his or her own classroom. The sessions provide an opportunity for teachers to share ideas and strategies. The goals of our workshops are to: Equip teachers to select, implement and assess the effectiveness of technology in teaching. Assist school corporations in the grassroots integration of technology into their curricula and to develop a plan for technology implementation. Discuss the process of implementing technology. Demonstrate strategies for successful technology implementation. Present the effective uses of various types of technology. Describe student-assessment techniques that are appropriate for use with various technology initiatives. Two, and sometimes three, facilitators conduct each workshop in order to provide variety in expertise and style. Each facilitator is in charge of approximately one-hour segments of the workshops. During the hands-on time in the computer laboratory, all facilitators are available to assist the participants as needed. Workshop staff serves three primary functions. First, they conduct the workshops, including the hands-on sessions. Second, they consult with the teachers, in person during sessions and by phone between workshops. Third, they collaborate with each school corporation and assist in developing and evaluating technology implementation action plans. The implementation process involves more than placing the technology in the classroom and plugging it in. It requires thought as to how the technology fits into the curriculum and how it will be received by students. It is also important to consider what will be taught (content), who will be taught (learners), how it will be taught (instructional strategies and technologies used), how students will be held accountable for what they are taught (testing to evaluate learning), and how the instructional process will be evaluated (student feedback and teacher analysis). A few strategies for successful technology implementation include developing a lesson plan to implement technology that provides adequate time for instruction and student learning, allows for student practice and feedback with the technology, and provides for an alternate plan in case the technology fails or d'es not produce the results desired. The ASSURE Model Our teachers are taught to implement instructional technology using the ASSURE Model.10 First, they Analyze the needs and characteristics of their students. What do the students already know? What do they need to know? What instructional approaches/strategies are more likely to be successful with their students? Second, they State their instructional goals and the objectives for their students. We use the A B C D approach to writing objectives -- Audience, Behavior, Conditions and Degree. Third, the teachers Select the educational software and instructional methods they will use to meet the objectives. Appraisal checklists for software are developed by teachers within each school corporation. Next, they Use the software with individuals, small groups or an entire class. Workshop staff demonstrate appropriate techniques for using one computer in the classroom; one computer per student; a computer as a presentation device for a class; and a computer as an administrative aid for gradebooks, record keeping, etc. The R of the ASSURE model stands for "Require student participation." Just as we require active teacher participation in our workshops, we also demonstrate how and discuss why teachers should get students to actively participate with computers in the classroom. Finally, teachers need to Evaluate and revise their lessons based upon student feedback, student achievement and their own assessment of "how things went." The Model in Action Workshop participants develop lesson plans using the ASSURE Model. Software is selected with a particular group of students and specific objectives in mind. After the software has been chosen, participants describe how they will implement it in their classrooms. What will be their roles? What will be their students' roles? How will they evaluate the appropriateness and effectiveness of the software in their situation? The ASSURE Model has provided an effective framework for the classroom instruction portions of the workshop. Evaluation of workshops produce data written by the attending teachers as to their perception of the workshops' strengths and weaknesses, and specific topics of interest for subsequent workshops. This information is evaluated and appropriate changes are made to improve the workshop series. Individual classroom observations identify the effects of the local context, the characteristics of computer implementation, and the nature of assistance needed by individual schools for their implementation process. The degree of computer usage by participating teachers is noted during observations and it has increased significantly since the program's inception. In addition, changes in teacher attitudes are observed and noted during classroom visits and informal conversations with teachers. The amount of detectable computer anxiety in teachers has decreased significantly with every school visit. Interviews with teachers and administrators were conducted to develop a case study profile of innovation and computer utilization within the school district. The profile consists of a history of innovation and computers use, computer introduction to teachers, perceived need for computers and the current computing environment. Many teachers wonder what to do with just one computer in a classroom. The workshops provide practical suggestions, motivating activities and hands-on experience to give teachers valuable ideas and techniques that they can apply immediately. Software and Hardware Procedures for selecting and implementing software are first described by workshop staff and then performed by the participating teachers. The concept of "groupware" is also presented. It refers to videotapes or computer software designed to be used with a whole class rather than by individual students. The software selected for use in the workshops represents a cross-section from drill-and-practice to problem solving. Selections were also made to demonstrate both ease or difficulty of use for the teacher. Some software was chosen because it did not meet our standards; we wished to sensitize teachers to the differences. Highest priority was given to software that required higher-level mathematics thinking skills. Software was purchased from many different vendors, with the majority coming from the dual organization of Sunburst/WINGS for learning. The workshop is designed for all types of computer hardware. Software used during workshop presentations is available in both Macintosh and DOS format. Some school corporations use one type of hardware exclusively; others have a variety. Summary of Outcomes Based upon qualitative and quantitative research, the outcomes of the workshops are: Increased awareness by teachers of the current technology for education; Development of a school corporation "action plan" for implementation of technology; Identification of local resources to successfully incorporate technology; Commitment to a strategic process of innovation and change; Increased quality of instruction; Opportunities for all students to acquire the "habits of mind" essential for today's and tomorrow's world; and Improved teacher attitudes toward technology in education. Based upon our PALOS experience and the current series of workshops, we have found that the teacher is the most important ingredient for success when using technology. It is not the computer hardware or software. Good teaching comes first and technology second! For additional information on the ASSURE Model, contact the project's director, Dr. Dennis Sorge at Purdue University; e-mail: [email protected] James Russell is professor of educational computing and instructional development at Purdue University. A former high school mathematics and science teacher, his research focus is on the design and development of instructional materials. Dennis Sorge has a bachelor's degree in math and physics, a master's in secondary education and a doctorate in educational administration, with additional work in mathematics and computer science. He has over 30 years' experience in mathematics education, and 25 years in the use of computers in education. Dianna Brickner is a doctoral student at Purdue University. She has 12 years of experience in the areas of education, training, instructional design and development, and research. Her expertise include skills in the instructional design process, which includes analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation of instruction. References: 1. Fullan, M., The Meaning of Education Change, New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University, 1982. 2. McLaughlin, M.W. and Marsh, D.D., "Staff Development and School Change," Teachers College Record, Vol. 80, No. 1 (1978), pp. 69-92. 3. Fullan, M., Implementing of Education Change: What We Know, Toronto, Ontario: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 1987. 4. Joyce, B. and Showers, B., Power in Staff Development Through Research on Training, Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1984. 5. Gross, M., Giacquinta, J. and Bernstein, M., Implementing Organizational Innovations: A Sociological Analysis of Planned Educational Change, New York, NY: Basic Books, 1971. 6. Berman, P. and McLaughlin, M.W., "Federal Program's Supporting Education Change," Vol. 4: The Findings in Review, Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corp., 1975. 7. Sorge, D.H., Russell, J.D. and Campbell, J.P., "Interactive Video with Adults: Lessons Learned," Educational Technology, July 1991, pp. 25-28. 8. Russell, J.D., Sorge, D.H. and Campbell, J.P., "Implementing Interactive Video," Performance and Instruction, October 1991, pp. 20-25. 9. Sorge, D.H., Russell, J.D., Weilbaker, G.L. and Brickner, D.L., Implementing Computer-Based Learning Systems, West Lafayette, IN, Purdue University, 1993. 10. Heinich, R., Molenda, M. and Russell, J.D., Instructional Media and the New Technologies of Instruction (4th Ed.), New York, NY, Macmillan, 1993. Companies mentioned: Sunburst/WINGS for learning, Scotts Valley, Calif.

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/1994 issue of THE Journal.