What does it mean to integrate technology in the classroom?
Ask 100 teachers this question and you will likely get 100 unique responses.
In his book, The Anti-Education Era, James Paul Gee (2013) cautions: “Our world is now so complex, our technology and science so powerful, and our problems so global and interconnected that we have to come to the limits of individual human intelligence and individual expertise” (p. 171). He suggests that students need to be geared toward solving hard problems, rather than memorizing a list of facts. The importance of collaboration and communication in the classroom are key to growing the innovative minds of tomorrow.
According to Mishra and Koehler (2009), the thoughtful integration of technological knowledge, content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge create powerful learning environments. While it is standard for teachers to marry the content to the pedagogy, it is the juxtaposition of these three ideas that has stumped teachers across the country.
Teachers are consistently awarded grants for technology like iPads and laptops, but are rarely trained in integrating technology effectively. The result being the digitizing of traditional practices, and the frustration of technology glitches and failures.
With my first year of teaching fast approaching, I sought out my future colleagues to gain insight into the tech-usage at my school. More specifically, I surveyed the other math teachers in my building, who teach college-prep, math lab, and honors courses. The school is located in the Metropolitan Detroit area in Michigan, and it services approximately 810 students across three grade levels (6-8).
My goal was to better understand what technology was being used, and I hoped to get the teacher-take on technology integration and professional development needs.
I created a short survey using Survey Monkey, and hoped to gain insight into two essential questions:
- What technologies are currently being used?
- What is the comfort level of my colleagues with respect to technology usage and integration?
I received responses from 6/8 teachers, or 75% of the math department (including myself). While the sample size is small, it gave me valuable information to draw from in my analysis. Additionally, I met with three of the other teachers in my department, who have all been teaching for 10 years, and gathered additional verbal feedback on the questions I was asking.
While this survey isn’t comprehensive of the technology integration building-wide, it paints a picture into the affordances of technology in the math classroom. With the knowledge gained through this process, I believe that directed, deliberate professional development can be created. As Gee points out, we’ve reached the limits of our own expertise. It is time to plug in, utilize the tools we have, and create technologically-sound, engaging learning environments.
Gee, J. (2013). The Anti-Education ERA: Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning (First Ed.). New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan.
Mishra, P. & Koehler. M. J. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Using the TPACK framework: You can have your hot tools and teach with them, too. Learning & Leading with Technology, 36(7), 14-18.