Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Technology Integration - Failure

I have been working on my literature review for my dissertation proposal, so reading quite a bit about online professional development and technology integration.  I have also been participating in several online discussion forums focusing on technology integration. So, this article that popped up in Twitter this morning thanks to a couple retweets from  @gcouros @meriannaNeely seemed quite appropriate to where my brain has been of late: The 10 Barriers to Technology Adoption: Technology will absolutely change K12 learning by Cathleen Norris and Elliot Soloway.

Nothing said in the article startled me or was new information - research backs up every one of their 10 barriers. So, what do I think, of the ten, are the top three? Well, in order of biggest barrier -  Barrier #9: Time, Barrier #7 - Infrastructure (Tech and Personnel) and Barrier #2: Leadership.  Don't get me wrong - all 10 are crucial for sustained implementation of technology integration to enhance instructional practice and student achievement.  But I think without these three being the strongest, no amount of the other 7 is going to work.

Why is time #1 in my opinion?  Technology integration - true integration, where it is a TOOL that enhances teaching and learning, means a change in practice and in beliefs.  Change takes time - time to learn new skills, new instructional practice, time to MAKE MISTAKES, time to test the waters, fail, and try again. Rarely are new technologies that are imposed on teachers given time to work - immediate results are expected, and if they don't happen, the technology is set aside and deemed a failure.

Infrastructure is #2 because the right technology is needed (often overlooked) and the personnel who know how to use it and support it are needed as well.  Infrastructure includes teachers and administrators collaborating and working together to figure out what the best methods for using technology are.  As teachers are taking the time to learn and try things in their classrooms and making mistakes, the personnel/support of colleagues and leaders need to support and work with them to figure out the mistakes, reflect on what might make it better and encourage them to keep trying.  Technology integration is a team effort, so along with time, infrastructure is key.

Which leads us to leadership.  Without leadership, including administrators and coaches and teacher leaders, technology integration won't happen.  If it's not okay for teachers to have the time to practice, to fail, to have students scores possibly drop (implementation dip....it exists!) and be given the opportunities to meet together, work together and support each other, then you might as well not even start the process of trying to integrate technology. 

Those are my two cents for the day.  All the other barriers are definitely obstacles, but I think if these three can be overcome, the likelihood of getting technology integration to be sustained and effective is greater.

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