Last summer I wrote a blog post called “Top Ten Tips for New Integrators.” It was a compilation of my experiences as a tech integrator over the past few years. This year has been a new experience in that I have been able to meet monthly with other integrators in my newly consolidated district- a priceless gift. As a result of these meetings and their experiences as well as my own, I’ve come up with the Next Steps for Integrators.
(Ok, I’ll be honest- some of them are extensions of some of the original ten, but I think they deserve continued attention.)
11. Join a Personal Learning Network. Many integrators are on their own in their buildings. Even if you aren’t, you may not have time to meet regularly to pick the brains of your colleagues. I have found Twitter to be indispensable. If you aren’t familiar with Twitter as a search tool, click the link and get acquainted. As you read through posts, you will see that there are “hashtags” that regularly follow posts of interest to you. In addition to following individual people, you can follow sets of hashtags. My favorite two hashtags are #edtech and #edchat.
I don’t have a ton of time to spend scouring the web for cool tools – but my “tweeps” do. By following those two hashtags, I have regularly updated lists of tools to look at when I have time. I use TweetDeck, an application that organizes the “tweets” as they come in. These tweets might have comments but more commonly have links to sites that are of interest to me.
12. Beware the new and improved tool.
Collecting a bazillion resources leads me to the next step. You will find lots of tools that do similar jobs. For example, Wordle makes a word cloud. So do Worditout and Tagul. For the sake of your teachers’ sanity, do not inundate them with the latest and greatest tool that does something just a little bit differently. Find a tool that works well and use it. Having said that, keep those other tools in the back of your mind for those instances that require something just a smidgen different.
13. Find a model you like and work with it.
Without some sort of model, you are just pushing tools. A model gives you a way to plan your technology use and gives you a way to assess its effectiveness. There are several good models out there and the one you choose will depend on your personal learning style. This model is for YOU to use as you help teachers choose tools that improve teaching and learning. The model will also serve as a framework that you will give teachers so they can move forward without you on their next project. Make sure you pick one that you understand and agree with. Mishra and Koehlers TPACK looks at the intersection of pedagogy, content knowledge, and technology in integration. Dr. Reuben Puentadura has devised a SAMR model (substitution, augmentation, modification, redefinition) that gives steps to integration. Some will find that Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy Summary by Andrew Church fits the bill (be sure to read more about this in this article from TechLearning.
14. Model good teaching with technology.
When you go into a classroom to teach technology, DO NOT STAND AND DELIVER! You are modeling good teaching techniques as well as technology use. If you are using a projector, hook your machine to it and sit a student in front of it. Direct the student (I say I need them to “drive”), and teach while you walk around the room. This lets you see who is understanding quickly and who is struggling. Take advantage and make those that “get it” local experts. Pair them with those that struggle. It also let you show how to keep kids on track and off the games.
15. Ask for feedback on your performance.
This can be scary, especially if you are new, but it is crucial to your development. Integrators often are left off the observation cycle and therefore have to come up with ways to be assessed. Do it any way you like- anonymous surveys, formal observations and critiques, “exit interviews” after an integration class. Don’t overlook student feedback in this process! Imagine if our kids never got any feedback. They’d have no idea whether they were doing well or not- and neither will you.