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Monday, February 18, 2008

The Road to Integration - Part 2

Here is what I have learned of late. 
There are three stages on the road to integration.
Stage 1: Isolation
This is the computer lab where technology is treated as if it is a subject matter in its own right. Students play games or use powerpoint to create slideshows that have no academic content or tie-in with whatever is being taught in the classroom. It is known as resource, specials or babysitting (did I say that?) while the classroom teachers have prep time.
Stage 2: Parallel teaching
This is where the computer lab teacher finds out what is being taught in the classroom and plans lessons that cover some of the same ground. This probably best describes my own situation at work. It is limited because there is only so much you can do in the short spurts of time you are given with the students, but it is quite a lot of fun (for me at least) because there is so much you can do with technology and there are so many great resources.
Stage 3: Integration
This is the ultimate goal. This is where the technology is transparent. It is just another tool, another resource for learning, creating, connecting. The content teacher and the tech teacher work together to weave the technology into the learning experience. To me, it seems obvious that this is how tech should be being used in schools. So, why are we not there yet?

This is the part that, I must admit, confounds me.  It seems like a win-win situation for the teachers (content area and tech integration) and the students. A lot of classroom teachers are working to integrate tech anyway. It can be a lot of extra work, especially in the beginning. So, if the school is lucky enough to have the tech person on staff, that person can take on all that "extra" tech stuff and the other teacher can focus on the curriculum. 
My experience has surprised me, but I am finding out (mostly from reading others' blogs) that I am not alone in what I am experiencing. Some say that we tech coordinators must be salespeople and sell the technology! Well, I do try hard to meet everyone where they are and "sell" as in helping them get to the next step, but consider this analogy - Can you imagine going to a doctor or dentist who advertised themselves proudly as "doing things the same way I've done them for 30 years. I don't need to use any of that state of the art equipment, no sir!" Who would go to this person? It is only in the field of education that people use this crazy line of reasoning. 

Technology in education is not a passing fad. It's not going to go away if we just wait long enough. Here is my plan for what needs to occur to get things moving along:
• Administration must support integration. There must be time for planning. Computer lab time can not be "drop off" time. All of this must come from the administration.
• Computer labs to be used regularly/ as needed for ongoing projects as opposed to a weekly resource class.

Why is this so hard to implement?
This I can not answer right now. Part 3 perhaps?

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