Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Ways We Talk about Technology

I read a number of blogs daily for my own personal professional development more than for any other reason. So, it was interesting today that David Warlick wrote about the word "integration." That word and the term "integrating technology" have been bothering me for a long time. When we talked about integrated units many years ago, we talked about bringing together various, hopefully related, pieces. So, in Social Studies an integrated unit on westward expansion might have meant that we "integrated" music by singing songs from the period, or we "integrated" art by designing covered wagons, or we "integrated" math by figuring out the miles that were traveled. The problem with that was that we were just pulling together various pieces that may or may not have been connected in some way and we weren't really planning for the learning or understanding of an important concept. So the music, the art and the math really had no impact on achievement.

Instead of integrating technology, we should begin first with our learning goals, choose the tools and resources that will support that learning. So, if we want our students to be better writers, we might use blogs because they can provide our students with authentic and wider audiences than we can provide within the four walls of a classroom. If we want our students to improve their speaking skills then podcasting could give students an outlet for working on those skills. Standing up in front of a classroom giving a book report can't even begin to approach that kind of experience.

We have the tools and now, many of them are free and online - we just need to connect them more purposefully with student learning and achievement.


David Warlick said...

I think that you are probably right -- after I gave you comments a lot of thought. It's a matter of degree, but the difference between integrating new into old is dramatically different from reshaping the old to reflect the new, changing how and what we teach.

I talked more about this in 2¢ Worth. Thanks for the conversation.

-- dave --

rob banning said...

Diane, your comments here and on Dave Warlicks Tuesday post hit the nail on the head! As you wrote your comments, I was in a meeting where the “technology experts” of an excellent high school were discussing their projects but were unable to express how the technology will enhance learning, dismissing the question with “this is just the first step”.

Shouldn’t the first step be looking at what Dave calls the literacy – what should we be teaching and in what kind of environment?

This would be the ideal, but many “educational technologists” are more comfortable discussing the technology than discussing education pedagogy or learning goals.

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