Monday, November 30, 2015

5 Steps to Fostering Technology in Schools

The slides flash up on the screen. The basic expectations for technology integration for K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 are outlined to students. I can’t help but smile as the words come out of my mouth. “Folks, these are the minimum expectations for using technology in your classroom.” 

As I pause for effect, I emphasize the following words, “Note that these are classroom-based expectations regardless of your content area, not something that happens only in the computer lab. These expectations exist whether you are a kindergarten teacher or a departmentalized fifth-grade teacher.” The information in the slides is based on a presentation done by Patsy "Mother of TA:TEKS" Lanclos in the 1990s at the Education Service Center, Region 20.  How tim has passed.

As I sat in a two-day academy on Problem-based Learning--a replication of the TCEA PBL Academy shared at the 2003 State Conference--and saw those same slides shared with teachers, I was astonished yet again at the fact that they registered as something “new.”

Excerpt from Dr. Chris Moersch's Levels of Technology Implementation - Source:

  • LOTI 0: Non-Use
  • LOTI 1: The use of computers is generally one step removed from the classroom teacher (e.g., it occurs in integrated learning system labs (i.e. Jostens, CCC, IDEAL, Plato), special computer-based pull-out programs, computer literacy classes, and central word processing labs). Computer based applications have little or no relevance to the individual teacher's instructional program.
  • LOTI 2: Technology-based tools serve as a supplement to the existing instructional program.Student projects (e.g., designing web pages, research via the Web, creating multimedia presentations, creating graphs and charts) focus on lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (e.g. creating a web page to learn more about whale species). Greater emphasis on technology rather than critical content.
  • LOTI 3: Technology-based tools including databases, spreadsheets, graphing packages, probes, calculators, multimedia applications, desktop publishing, and telecommunications augment selected instructional events (e.g., science kit experiments using spreadsheets or graphs to analyze results, telecommunications activities involving data sharing among schools).
  • LOTI 4a: Technology-based tools are mechanically integrated, providing a rich context for students' understanding of the pertinent concepts, themes, and processes. Heavy reliance is placed on prepackaged materials and sequential charts that aid the teacher in the daily operation of the instructional curriculum. Technology (e.g., multimedia, telecommunications, databases, spreadsheets, word processing) is perceived as a tool to identify and solve authentic problems relating to an overall theme or concept.).
  • LOTI 4b: Teachers can readily create integrated units with little intervention from outside resources. Technology-based tools are easily and routinely integrated, providing a rich context for students' understanding of the pertinent concepts, themes, and processes. Technology (e.g., multimedia, telecommunications, databases, spreadsheets, word processing) is perceived as a tool to identify and solve authentic problems relating to an overall theme/concept.
Since September, 1998, the Technology Applications: Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TA:TEKS) have served as a tool to encourage content-area teachers. It is for that reason that I was perplexed that a school district might not have a TA:TEKS curriculum that addressed Middle School. These days, many school districts flounder without a clue about how to blend technology into core content, and computer labs are kept as expensive assessment centers for high-stakes testing and/or interventions (e.g. Istation, Think Through Math). 

The reason why we haven't achieved escape velocity in the area of Technology Applications is simply that Curriculum & Instruction Departments lag far behind their Instructional Technology counterparts, unwilling to blend technology into content and pedagogy, to hit the sweet spot on, or follow the clearly staked-out, well-lit path of the Technology Integration Matrix, work that languishes without adoption in many schools.

While the technology may be integrated across the curriculum, in an informal data collection effort, I found that the majority of school districts responding preferred to have abandoned efforts to address technology. It is too expensive to pay for a teacher, knowing that every teacher should be blending technology into the curriculum. In spite of knowing this, integration efforts in the content areas have failed in districts--and that includes device frenzies that achieve 1 to 1 device saturation but no one knows what to do next--that neglected to provide extensive staff development for classroom teachers at a LOTI Level 4 or higher.

Yet, the fact remains that fostering technology applications is an imperative. But, how do we do move beyond technology-centric approaches, and build on content/pedagogy rich strategies that fail to achieve the promise of blended technology? 

Follow this 5-step approach that bridges the gap between computer literacy classes of the past and the desired target technology integration needed in Texas schools today. 

STEP 1: Schedule a meeting with key stakeholders (e.g. principals, teachers, and curriculum staff).

STEP 2: Ensure that your campuses have the hardware and software needed. At a time when technology is like water, no one should be struggling. Develop and document multi-year equipment and infrastructure plans.

STEP 3: Provide the necessary professional development for teachers in HOW TO USE the tools. It's easy to hand-out millions of dollars in equipment, but harder to show people how to use it once it has found its way into desk drawers, locked closets, or left behind in car trunks. Instill a sense of urgency, wonder, and develop a PLN/PLC to get going.

STEP 4: Build a virtual space where curriculum using technology (CUT, an acronym I coined many years ago with colleague Jim Baldoni) can be found and contributed to.

STEP 5: Develop an Implementation Plan with attention to fidelity of implementation.

These steps are simple to state, difficult to implement.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Stephanie Seber, The Parent Institute said...

Schools can technology to their advantage withThe Parent Institute's eTips: Daily Parent Engagement Messages-school leaders can post these short student success tips on their Facebook, Twitter, website, text or voice messaging. These school success tips link parents to a full article on how to engage, boost and support school success. eTips allow schools to use social media and other media outlets to engage parents that are already on their smartphones! For more information visit

Miguel Guhlin said...

Thanks, Stephanie, for sharing The Parent Institute's eTips! Great idea and powerful resource to rely on.

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