In the classroom I would always make sure that all levels of my students were able to show growth. I realized early in my teaching career that you can not just focus on one level or you will lose the rest. The same can be applied in my role as technology integrationist. As the year has progressed it is easy to see that the staff at my school, just like the staff at any school, are across the spectrum when it comes to technology integration. We have some people who are the “early adopters” or “innovators” on the technology adoption lifecycle chart while we have many that would still fit into the early majority to late majority.
The key to this is to keep a growth mindset and make sure that the system is in place to help those at all levels to grow in their learning and usage of technology in the classroom. If we have a goal in place, there should be little standing between us and growth. We do not always do the best job helping our students set goals in the classroom but it is something that we expect to be able to do easily with teachers.
Just like in our classroom where we should make sure our students understand the need for learning and growth in the classroom, we must make sure teachers understand the importance of growth as an educator in whatever area we are focusing on. Many people still do not see the reason for technology use in the classroom and it is important that we make sure understand why we are making such a big investment in order to improve learning.
For me, the biggest reason to integrate technology into the classroom has everything to do with engagement and differentiation. A lecture or a worksheet can not be differentiated well for students who are at different levels of learning or have different learning styles, but we can use technology to create different opportunities for them to learn, each using a way that best fits their individual needs. Instead of spending hours trying to make copies of a wide range of worksheets or assignments, we can use the digital tools which are so easily available and give students the choices that they desire and need. We do not need to create everything as there are a huge amount of resources available, mostly for free, all we have to do is curate those resources and help guide the students through the learning process. We no longer should be the holders of knowledge as we live in a world where we can access the information of the world in mere seconds using whatever device is around us.
The engagement aspect is key as we must make sure our students are engaged in the learning process. Do not confuse engagement with entertained. For engagement we have to focus on making sure students are conscious participants of the learning process and not just passive bystanders who are getting taught to. By giving students more control of their learning and giving them options to how they learn, we can engage them. By giving students the ability to write or create for an audience of more than 1, we can engage them. By giving students the ability to collaborate with others who may not even be in the same place or same time as them, we can engage them.
Once we have our goals and understanding about why we are integrating technology into the classroom, then comes the process of setting goals and putting resources in place so that we can assist all levels of learners. We want everyone to have that growth mindset and be able to not only grow but be able to show that growth. There is no one way to do this and determining the best way to do this with a particular staff can be a daunting task. This is a task that we must undertake and keep at it until we can feel successful.