This week we investigated factors influencing technology integration. I found this to be yet another crucial topic in the field because it covers all the problems teachers are faced with in trying to integrate technology, and how they can deal with them.
We were asked to post on our blog space in Blackboard addressing the following objective/questions:
Identify potential barriers to technology integration to inform your future personal and professional technology integration plans.
What do you identify as your two or three top personal barriers to technology integration?
What are some steps you can take to address these barriers in your time at Towson?
Here is what I posted:
Based on the Ertmer (1999) article, I personally feel that my main problems with technology integration revolve more around first-order (external) barriers than second-order (internal) ones. Then again, my background is in IT and I’m still fairly new to teaching so this could have something to do with it. Anyway, although first-order barriers have been my biggest trial, I don’t mean to give the impression that they have been totally hampering my efforts. At the last institution where I worked, technology tools were pretty much at my disposable as classrooms were well equipped (e.g., each classroom had a computer, projector and SMART Board) so, no complaints from that view point. However, as Ertmer describes, there were other resource constraints I was challenged by.
As the majority of teachers will probably confess, lack of time in order to easily integrate technology has always been an issue for me. Although I was able to integrate technology on several occasions, I admittedly had to go that extra mile which I don’t think many of the teachers I’ve worked with previously are so willing to go. Their reasons vary, but the majority of them probably dealing with second-order barriers such as not seeing any benefit and “unwillingness to change” (Ertmer, 1999, p. 48). Although more work was required on my part, my main motivation was to enhance lessons (Oncu, Delialioglu & Brown, 2008, p. 34). Whereas Oncu et al. (2008) refer to enhancing lessons logistically (reducing time spent) and via content presentation (helping get across abstract concepts) (p.34), my aim was to also engage students more who often showed very little interest in learning.
Ertmer (1999) discusses many good strategies to help teachers deal with issues of time including “using block scheduling” and “reorganizing teaching loads” (p. 56). However, these strategies are really in the hands of administration and therefore, beyond the control of teachers. That being said, one of my goals during my program of study is to try and find ways to re-use technological products (e.g. Web 2.0 tools) in lessons in order to save time. Just as drawing up lessons from scratch requires valuable time, trying to integrate technology as well can entail even more time (especially for one just starting out). Therefore, re-use of technological products, especially ones which are flexible (allow for adaptation and customization), is highly favorable. Hopefully such knowledge will be offered in later classes. If not, I will have to resort to where I tend to get most of my information regarding the field; that is, online presentations and conferences.
Another issue I face in technology integration is knowing when and when not to use technology, and assessing effectiveness. In general, being so convinced of the opportunities technology integration can afford, when faced with instructional situations in the recent past, I’ve always been quick to try and find some technology to integrate into them.
However, as mentioned in the Oncu et al. (2008) research, perhaps this may not be such a good approach as I may end up doing something “that may not necessarily benefit (my) students” (p. 37).
Again, Ertmer (1999) gives some great examples of evaluation strategies for measuring learning processes/outcomes including electronic portfolios (e-portfolios), self-evaluation, and group performance tasks (p. 58). With respect to e-portfolios, I am a huge advocate as I feel they provide an excellent means for students to reflect on, as well as showcase their work. I actually began implementing such a project at my last place job although I unfortunately wasn’t able see it through due to a role shift. However, I could tell that the students enjoyed the initial phase we were able to complete together. Self-evaluation is also very beneficial, providing a means for assessment to go “beyond products to include information about students’ knowledge, skills, dispositions, and attitudes” (Ertmer, 1999, p. 58). I remember completing self-evaluations in an online course I took and they really helped give me a better appreciation for the skills I was learning. Lastly, the group performance task mentioned by Ertmer sounds intense and definitely seems to promote higher-order thinking skills.
Taking all this into account, throughout my program of study, I really hope to build on the strategies given by Ertmer, as well as continue to learn even more effective methods of evaluating student/worker performance. I believe there are courses focused on assessment in the Department of Education which I will look into. Once I learn to get a better feel for assessing effectiveness, I can hopefully in-turn start to realize when it is (not) appropriate to integrate technology. Furthermore, if I can successfully prove with concrete data that technology integration does make a difference in student learning, I am confident this will help a great deal in convincing other teachers dealing with second-order barriers.
Ertmer, P. (1999). Addressing first- and second-order barriers to change: Strategies for technology integration. Educational Technology Research & Development, 47(4), 47-61. Retrieved from http://www.springer.com/education+%26+language/learning+%26+instruction/journal/11423
Oncu, S., Delialioglu, O., Brown, C. (2008). Critical components for technology integration: How do instructors make decisions? Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 27(1), 19-46. Retrieved from http://www.aace.org/pubs/jcmst/