Stop integrating technology

Recently I’ve tried to stop using the “integrating technology” term and simply talk about using it. Jeff over at The Thinking Stick provides a really nice example of this in his latest post, Technology: it’s what we do, not one more thing to do.

We need to get past the point that we need to understand how the technology works. We don’t! We just need to understand how it can be used in our classroom to enhance learning. The students will figure out the ‘how to’ part on their own. They live in this world, they are good at troubleshooting problems and finding solutions.

I’m sure I’ve said these exact words at least 3 times in the last month. Take an inventory of your classroom skills and interests and start using and building on the knowledge and expertise you already have access to.

On Wednesday, I’m spending the day working with 2 classes wanting to use video editing. Normally this would be a very easy day to plan for. However they are using software I’ve never used. I worked on a project today as a test and ended up using the help section for practically every task. I’m not planning on doing a whole lot more in preparing to use the software. The kids can figure it out themselves. I will spend the day talking and demonstrating the importance of storyboarding, planning and review the elements of storytelling. That’s what they need to know. Technology is the easy part. Learning is the hard part.

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  • Hear, hear! Next term I’m being released from my class teaching duties to support technlogy school wide and the teacher taking my place wants to get the kids in the class to create digital stories based on a personal research project. He suggested that when it came to the use of PhotoStory that he might need to access my technical expertise in order to help the kids. I disagreed and told him that his expertise in terms of working with the students to pace information, match relevant images to text, acknowledging sources, working on the balance between text and voice was far more important than knowing how to trouble shoot the application. The kids can do that for themselves and learn more quickly from each other. And he can look in and learn as well!

  • Lona

    Right on the money (or whatever other cliche you would prefer here).

    Students are not scared to jump in and figure things out. I teach a night class of ‘mature’ students who are new to computers. They are scared to left click if I don’t give them the go ahead — I encourage them to ‘click around’ and find things on their own but they are sure they are going to break the computer. The high school students that I have are not scared of ‘breaking’ anything. They are willing to search around, use help, and take risks. This has enabled me to spend more time helping students figure out what they want to say, do, represent and getting them to plan out how to make technology do the work for them.

    In response to Graham’s comments – last semester we had photostory installed on our network. I took one class period to teach students how to tell a story, pick photos, music, etc. and then we jumped in and created our own. I was not a master or even comfortable with the software at the time we started the project but knew that the students would be able to figure things out before I would. I was not disappointed. The students loved figuring things out and then, in turn, sharing that knowledge with the rest of the class.

    The kids that are moving out into the work-force today have such an advantage over some of the more mature workforce — they are not waiting for an in-service to teach them how to use technology. They will figure it out.

  • I wish my students were as adventurous – I’m doing a collaborative textbook with my History classes (wiki), and while some of them are jumping gnug-ho onto the bandwagon, I’ve got probably about ½ the class repeatedly asking me how to create links, how to insert photos, or whatever, despite the fact that all that help information is available on the wiki itself. I think my students are used to being spoonfed what and how to do for the tasks they are assigned and are having trouble adapting to wide-open workspaces (e-agoraphobia?).

  • Sorry to be late to the comments on this one, but this is a critical change of perspective for ed tech people to understand. I was a science teacher before I got into technology, and the science ed world figured out a long time ago that science isn’t facts, it’s a way of understanding and questioning. In the same way, technology isn’t stuff, it’s something people do. The definition of “technology” used by anthropologists and other scientists is the human process of solving problems using skills, tools, processeses, materials, knowledge, and creativity. What we use isn’t relevant; a true technologist can adapt, reuse, or create what they need for the situation at hand.

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