Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Integrating Technology: an Art for Teachers!

Technologies touch our lives in many areas: in the educational institution, workplaces, transportation, communication, industry, and even at home. They are changing rapidly and inevitably. Apparently, they are supporting one to another; an innovation in one area inspires other areas to make a new revolution. This is a kind of continuous cycle of innovation. I would say that a new beginning of technology is always up-to-the-minute!

Unconscious Approach

Some innovations in technology are produced based on the needs of people or companies. Meanwhile, other technologies simply come as the new things that are potentially beneficial for particular clients. No matter what kind of technologies they are, most of technologies normally ‘come’ first to us and later we do something about it.

What we do are adoption and adaptation. In adaption we learn about how to use them and later get benefit from them. So far, this is a common approach used concerning to the new technologies. In the schools, as one of the educational institutions, this phenomenon is also happening. I named this approach as the unconscious approach.

I would like to repeat what I wrote in my previous post. Technology failed to reform education because of the inappropriate approach. Instead of adapting technology to fit the needs of the learners, learners or teachers were forced to adapt to the demands of the innovative technology. In my opinion, technology-driven approach is an inappropriate approach for TPACK. It should be a learner-centered approach by focusing on what the needs of the learners.

A couple of weeks ago, my classmates and I had a visit to one of schools nearby. Though we did this observation due to other assignments, I would like to combine my findings there with my TPACK knowledge regarding to the issue of technology integration.  I found that the first phase that matters a lot to teacher concerning technologies is about how to use technologies. Besides of their willingness of integrating technologies, the skills, or at least the knowledge, are very important for teachers. This is the starting point: the teachers should be willing and knowledgeable in integrating the technology.

The next step is the integration in which teachers integrate technologies in their teaching activities based on what the needs of the learners. Unfortunately, the first step is not moving forward. The teachers do use the technologies but they do not integrate technologies in the lesson. For some, it is because they admitted that they lack of knowledge of how to integrate it. For others, they were simply not willing to integrate the technologies due to the workload and technical problems they faced. In my opinion, these teachers that are not willing to do technology integration probably have the same problem with the other teachers. They are lacking of TPACK knowledge; they just do not want to admit it, I guess. :)

An Art, not A Formula

It is always not easy to start a new thing. It also happens for the novice teachers who try to integrate the technologies in their lesson. They have to know first what the need of the learners is, then find the appropriate TPACK strategy to be implemented. Based on my previous background as a teacher, let me introduce four phases of strategies that can be helpful regarding to this ‘problem’: asking, reading, trying out, and finding.

Asking. The very simple way to do is asking other teachers about their experiences in integrating technologies. Please do more than asking, do analysis of the learners' need and find out what the advantages and disadvantages of those technologies mentioned regarding particular content and (or) pedagogy used. Get as much as possible information from the experienced teachers to build a better TPACK knowledge.
Reading. The literatures are reliable resources to find out what is the learners' need and the possible integration activities can be adopted. For instance, the list from Harris, Mishra and Koehler (the article can be found below) can be very helpful as a starting point and give a new insight of possible activities inn integrating technologies.
Trying out. With a thoughtful plan and many considerations, the knowledge of how to integrate technologies should be implemented. Unless it is executed, a teacher would never know whether the plan is working or not in a real environment.
Finding. By doing many try-outs and analysis, the teachers will get many findings. These findings can be used as references of how to do integration next time.

For experienced teachers, those phases are also applicable. To some extent, they may do the same like what the novice teachers do. Or, they may not spend so much time in first phase, but may do other phases more. It depends on how much they think each phase necessary to their needs.

Integration of technologies in education cannot happen instantly. It needs time; it is a process. Also, we can conclude that there is no fixed formula of TPACK approach or the strategy of technologies integration. I would say that the integration is not simply about a particular knowledge; it is also a skill. This skill can be sharpened through experience by experience of the teachers. Later, it would be revealed as a beautiful work. Apocalypto! Finally, it will turn to be an art for teachers.

Harris, J., Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2009). Teachers' technological pedagogical content knowledge and learning activity types: Curriculum-based technology integration reframed. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(4), 393-416.

1 comment:

  1. Asking, reading, trying out and finding... thanks for sharing this! I will keep this in mind in my own future activities. One question: do you think that teachers take the time to read? Maybe yes for a "popular" article, but what about scientific papers? Or maybe that is not necessary?