Today’s technology is designed with experiential learning in mind. Students have the capability to be mobile, participate in flexible groups, and collaborate with their peers. Today’s tools enable learners to become innovators, explorers, and publishers. Today’s tools are not the tools of old. These tools have amazing capabilities and will enable our students to engage in and become masters of their own learning. Technology integration in its greatest sense allows the learners to take the lead in their learning. While students are exploring, gathering and organizing a variety of resources, communicating their findings, they are creating new learning and methods to share it.
Picture a student as an explorer. They gather the devices and topic of their choice, they sail off into the internet to explore, discover, and invent new understandings of the given topic. Along the way, they will meet peers, guides, and experts who can point them in the right direction. Ultimately at the end of their voyage they should have claimed a stake in their learning and have something to show that charts their path. The evidence of learning might come in the form of a podcast, video, blog, wiki, 3-D model, an excel spreadsheet, etc. The options and opportunities are endless.
I challenge you to ask yourself, “Whose hands are on the devices in your classroom?” If the answer is yours then maybe you need to examine the levels of technology integration. Ed TechInnovators, a team from Red Lion Area School District, has created a taxonomy of technology integration.
Ed TechInnovators’ proposed taxonomy demonstrates that technology integration where students are passengers and the teacher is in the driver’s seat is integration in its lowest form. This is certainly acceptable at times and necessary too. I think educators need to model proper usage, collaboration, and organization of resources. At times, especially when learning a new tool, Level 1: Observation is a perfectly acceptable place to be. However, I am proposing that a variety of levels would better engage your students and encourage your students to become innovators and not imitators of content.
Ultimately, passing through all of the levels of technology integration several times throughout the duration of a course should be the ultimate goal. Exposing ourselves, as educators, and our students to different methods of employing a variety of devices will lend our students a helping hand in their futures. The table below applies this taxonomy at each level to the demands of today’s workforce:
|Observation||This level of the taxonomy will certainly be a skill necessary in board meetings, graduate classes, and sales pitches. As adults in the workforce, don’t we all need to take a back seat, listen, and evaluate what we are hearing and seeing from others?|
|Incorporating||We all like tools that make life easier and faster for us. This level will allow students to explore using a tool to assist them in productivity. Using email to correspond, using a spreadsheet to calculate sums, or using an online calendar or app to organize your time are all skills that will assist someone in today’s workforce.|
|Producing||Employing one tool to produce one product is a skill often called upon at the job site. Use this needle to draw a blood sample, use this software to generate a report, use this camera to get a shot for the cover of the newspaper. This is certainly a skill most professionals need to have.|
|Exploring||It’s always good to research and explore prior to tackling a topic or project! When searching for a job it is always good to research the company prior to interviewing. Exploring prior to learning allows students to see what’s readily available on the topic and then proceed into the next level. When you are working on a new project at work, finding what’s already out there is always a good first step.|
|Collaborating||There is no job where you are exempt from communicating with others. It may be a more limited role, however it is always an essential skill to every job. Reaching out to other students, adults, and experts and learning together is absolutely prepare our young learners to be productive members of the workforce. In fact, the more people they are able to work with and learn with, the better!|
|Applying||There is certainly evidence in the industry realm of using more than one media, blending them together, and creating something new and unique. In the car industry several differ tools are assembled in a line to create the rides we enjoy every day. Our students should be well versed in employing a multitude of tools to perform one project.|
|Producing||Isn’t the ultimate goal of every employer to have a successful product? Whether that product is a service offered to the public, or a good that can be owned creating one that works is the end goal. Students should experience the success of planning, implementing, and manipulating a variety of media to complete projects.|