Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘integration

The old saying about technology integration was that the pedagogical horse should lead the technological cart, and not the other way around. It is about what to prioritise.

The problem with this analogy is that each can function on its own. The horse can move or be ridden independently of the cart. The cart does not need the horse (it could be decoration, just like interactive white boards).

The saying has been updated. Now some like to say that technology integration is like a driver (pedagogy) in a car (technology). This seems more current and apt unless you realise some people who say this still insist pedagogy should always lead technology.

What is the person alone? What is the car alone? Alone neither gets anywhere. They need to be integrated without one being promoted over the other in order to go on a journey and arrive at a destination.

If you use this analogy, then you must also acknowledge that technology and pedagogy go together. One is not more important than the other.

Learning how to integrate technology effectively is not easy. When more informed people try to describe to less informed people what technology integration might look like, the former tend to use analogies.

There used to be the warning not to put the technological cart before the pedagogical horse. This soon got replaced by the car model of pedagogical driver and technological accelerator. The problem with this newer model is that pedagogy and technology are kept too separate.

What teachers and educators of teachers need to realise is that the two are integrated with each other as well as other components.

One of the better models of technology integration is TPACK. Effective technology integration lies at the nexus of technology, pedagogy, and content, and when all three are embedded in authentic contexts.

But even this model has been critiqued as inadequate. For example, there is a more learning-focused model (PDF).

The cart and car models rely on current thinking. TPACK and its variants are more conceptual and highlight important elements, but they are not as easy to relate to as analogies.

I offer a different analogy to challenge old assumptions. We should be thinking about technology integration like augmented humans, i.e., cyborgs. I do not mean the dystopian or fantasy-driven cyborgs that destroy the human race. I mean the cyborgs that we already are or are becoming.

We already rely on our phones to remember phone numbers, schedules, and a host of other details. We have augmented our memories. We are not 100% human if we have devices to pump or clean our blood, strengthen a limb, replace a limb, help us see, help us hear, help us speak, etc.

We actually think of ourselves as less human or even not human (suffering or dead) if we do not have these technologies to aid or enable us to do what is human.

Technology integration is like a cyborg. The technology alone or the pedagogy alone is useless without the other. These are also pointless without the other constituent parts like content, context, and connections.

Development in any one of these areas can push the other parts. If we are honest, the technological component is often what drives and pushes for change. Who is to say that pedagogy should reign the technology in just because an older model says so?

The cyborg model of technology integration in schools and educational contexts is itself an integration of important moving and enabling parts. There are factors teaching, learner, learning, content, contextual, connective, and technological. One is not more important than another. To remove or ignore one is to create a Frankenstein’s monster.

I get the sentiment and thinking behind such a statement. It is about getting educators who have the passion to teach and are able to leverage on technology to help their students learn meaningfully and effectively.

These are the sorts of educators we need, but what are types we get and grow?

We can certainly find several individuals who have the passion and a few with the innate talent to teach. But integrating technology is a learnt and transferred behaviour that takes time and trials, neither of which most teacher preparation programmes and full time jobs in schools provide.

So what is wrong with embracing “tech geeks” who can teach? Who is to say that their focus and ability only lies in the tech and not, say, the ability to use social learning strategies?

Which is harder: To learn pedagogy or to learn how to integrate technology?

That is a trick question. It is the premise on which the original statement might have been built on. It is also a false dichotomy because you cannot separate the two.

What we need is passionate do-ers who are willing to learn by failing forward. They can be “tech geeks” or “teaching geeks”, but they will go on similar journeys with their learners.

After almost four years of leading the efforts of CeL, I have learnt that there are at least three ways of influencing faculty to integrate technology into instruction.

Video source

The first is seeding. I do not mean sowing or planting seeds (that is the second way). I am referring to providing a nucleus akin to the process of chemical seeding. This is like seeding crystals or rain.

Seeding happens when an instructor needs is an idea, resource, or process that sparks the rest of the reaction. The conditions for seeding this technology integration might have been created by you or more likely already be present.

The second method of influencing technology integration is planting. This could be the planting of seeds or seedlings into soil that may support growth. There is a greater effort in preparing the soil and knowing what kinds of plants are more likely to grow in which soils.

This method manifests itself in professional development sessions, establishing policies, and managing initiatives.

The third main method of integrating technology is nurturing. This could mean some hand-holding (guidance) or it could also mean pruning. I think most folk would focus on the former; I tend to emphasize the latter.

By pruning I mean removing bad habits, dissuading undesirable practices, and removing redundant tools or resources. It is a painful and long term process not unlike the shaping of a bonsai tree.

It is important to recognize which strategies to use in different contexts. For example, it is better to seed innovators than to prune them. It is also better to plant and manage initiatives among faculty who have little idea or motivation than to attempt to seed or prune first.

Prior to meeting my classes each semester, I send online surveys out to participants to get to know them. Depending on the class, I may also ask them to prepare other things like playing mobile games, making sure they have QR code readers, etc.

Every now and then I will get a reply to my welcome email about how the participant is worried that they might not be savvy enough with technology. I call that perceived dissonance.

That person thinks that his or her lack of tech-savvy will hold him or her back. Having facilitated courses over the years, I can confidently say that this perception does not become reality. Participants learn along the way and they get help from their peers and me.

What they should be more concerned about is the dissonance that I create (or that they come to realize) about content, their mindsets or belief systems, strategies, and so on. This is the real (and really useful) dissonance.

This is another way of saying that in good technology integration, the technology is essential and enabling, but it is also transparent. It is there to enable self-directed learning, meaningful collaboration, and deep reflection, but it does not get in the way.

”Difficult Times” by currybet, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  currybet 

A refrain I hear repeatedly from folks who are responsible for promoting ICT integration into education is make it easy for the teacher who is resistant to this change.

I refrain from endorsing that mindset or practice. I see the point of increasing adoption by lowering the bar, but that also lowers expectations to an unrealistic level.

Like most worthwhile things in life, integrating technology effectively is hard work. It is harder than just lecturing for example.

It is much easier to talk to an audience (and fool yourself into thinking they are learning) than to create experiences or authentic learning events.

It is easier to just give answers than to draw out with questions or guide meaningful learning.

It is far easy to keep doing things the same old way than to reinvent yourself to stay relevant.

A semester ago I lost my favourite room on campus due to repurposing and reflected on what I do to create station-based learning. It is hard and sweaty physical work. It is difficult to plan and react constantly.

So why put up with difficult?

It is actually fun to stay on my toes. But more importantly, I see what my learners get out of it. I am encouraged by the feedback that I hear and read.

If you put your learners and learning first, the difficulty of integrating technology well will pale and fade into the background.

Video source

I love the way Joe Sabia combines traditional storytelling with digital storytelling.

Some might consider what he did gimmicky. But I think he used the videos, music, the flicking of photos and even his iPad’s camera to make his point. The story is at the core. The medium helps tell it.

The same could be said with integrating technology into education. The learning (not the teaching) should be at the core. The technology should enable it.

Click to see all the nominees!

QR code

Get a mobile QR code app to figure out what this means!

My tweets


Usage policy

%d bloggers like this: