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In the last year there has been lots of opportunity for technology to be integrated into the classroom. With iPads, Apple engaging in digital textbooks, Google everything, apps by the dozen, and the explosion of Twitter and other forms of social media for educators it can be easy to get lost or just give up. To assure this doesn’t happen, educational leaders must guide colleagues through this maze of technology so that more educators engage in its use. However, that engagement must be done efficiently and effectively. One of my previous posts: 5 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Innovate in Your School touched on this issue. In that post 2 of the five questions revolved around instruction and learning (see below):

  1. How does the innovation you want to implement improve student learning? This should be the priority every time we consider implementing anything in a school. The innovation, in this case technology, must improve student learning. We are educators because we believe in students and want them to maximize their learning potential in the short time we work with them. So if we are going to implement technology then it must be able to improve student learning. How you define improved student learning will be dependent on the age and grade level of student you work with, type of school you lead, etc.
  2. How does the innovation improve instruction? Hand in hand with question two is this one. Innovative technology must improve instruction. It can not be a burden on teachers or an after-thought by them. Innovative technology must become part of the fabric of instruction so that the teachers become more efficient and effective at how they motivate, engage and instruct students. If it’s not going to improve instruction and they do not know how to seamlessly infuse it into their lessons, you will not get the support of the teachers and they won’t use the technology.

What I quickly realized after posting this blog was that it is difficult for educators to answer these two questions because of the continual change in technology, at a rate that is too fast to measure, and because there are very few examples on how to do this and do it well. Therefore, the responsibility must fall on educational leaders to provide the examples and model the integration so it can be emulated and adapted to meet various classroom needs.

As I’ve mulled this over the following process came to mind. It is simply a concept to get every connected educator thinking about how he/she can assist colleagues in integrating technology into the classroom so that it improves learning and instruction.

  1. Identify something within your teaching or the students’ learning that could benefit from technology integration. Is it note taking, organizational skills, collaborative work environments, flipped classroom, blogs, or video?
  2. Do your research. Identify potential technologies that would address #1 in the classroom. This can be a program, app, hardware, social media feature, etc.
  3. Experiment with each to see how it works, what the benefits are and if there are any concerns with using it for instructional purposes.
  4. Narrow down the list to the choice you feel will best meet your need, improves instruction and/or improves learning.
  5. Build lesson plans around the technology by rethinking how you can teach with the new technology. Take the time to assure that it will seamlessly integrate so that it is neither a burden to you or the students, or is seen as an add on to the lesson. It must be part of the lesson.
  6. Teach using it, make revisions, improve your use of it in the classroom.
  7. Once you are comfortable with using the technology it is now your turn to lead by inviting in colleagues, administrators and parents to see the benefits and how instruction can become interactive and engaging through technology.

The integration of technology is a wonderful opportunity to take education, learning and teaching to a new level. However, without educational leaders as examples on how to properly and effectively integrate it many educators will become lost in the daily flurry of new technologies without ways to integrate properly. Be the educational leader that helps the evolution of technology by learning, leading and modeling the use and integration for the improvement of learning and instruction.

Please comment about other integration methods so we can further the conversation and connect more educators.