What does "technology integration" look like? Ed tech people throw that term around all the time (myself included). But if you walked into a classroom, how would you know that the process was actually happening?
If you’re continuing to read this rant to find the answers, sorry. It’s the question that was important the other day when I spent the morning doing drop-in classroom observations at a local high school. This school and the others in the same neighborhood are part of a project that is looking at how technology integrated into instruction changes learning.
Since these visits are the just snapshots of computer use for the baseline of the evaluation for the project, there wasn’t much to record. However, other things I observed during the drop-ins suggests this project could be doomed to failure.
All of the teaching going on was straight out of the traditional mold. Every classroom featured a teacher in the front of nice, neat rows of students performing some variation on the standard lecture/demonstration.
The students for the most part had their worksheets in front of them, some following the lesson, but most paying little attention. Except for the mix of kids, this could have been Ferris Bueller’s high school (minus Ferris, of course).
If any sort of legitimate technology integration is going to occur – as a result of this project or otherwise – that kind of traditional classroom organization (it’s hard to call this teaching anymore) cannot continue. Layering computers and high speed access to the web on top of that antiquated structure is an incredible waste of resources.
Computers in the hands of teachers and students, and especially the powerful communications tools that are included, make the whole concept of schooling on display in these classrooms completely obsolete. If done correctly, technology integration should lead to a massive upheaval of the traditional concepts of teaching and learning.
By coincidence, Anne Davis earlier this week was asked to address the same issue of technology integration and arrives at the same place. And she makes the point so much better than I do.
The largest problem that we face in technology implementations is our outmoded paradigm of education. Traditional models of education are built around the teacher being the expert and the one that dispenses knowledge to students. Curriculum is delivered mainly through the lecture mode. We are teaching from textbooks that in many cases are outdated as they go to print. This has to change before technology can realize its promise.
However, I was only in this school for a couple of hours. I was assigned a random set of classrooms so maybe I was missing something less traditional going on in other classrooms. Maybe the technology integration I was looking for was hidden behind other doors.
Maybe. But just walking down the halls and peering into other classrooms only confirmed my other observations. Other than an occasional PowerPoint slide on a TV, very little seemed different from room to room to room.