So You Want to Integrate Technology – Now What?

7/24/2014 12:00:00 AM
When I moved this blog to WordPress some posts did not survive, so in an effort to move some of my favorite posts with me, I will be republishing them here.  This post first appeared June, 2011. 

I have been given a new label this year, I am now the “techy teacher.”  This label brings many odd and interesting conversations with it, most often involving how to integrate technology into a classroom.  So for all of those just getting started, who perhaps are ready to move beyond use computers as research engines and typewriters, here is a little advice from someone who has been there:

  1. Decide on time.  Ask yourself, and be honest, how much time do you really want to spend on technology in your day?  If the answer is as little as possible then perhaps this is not the year.  If the answer is some, then do  read on.
  2. Figure out the “Why.”  What are you aiming to do with the technology?  What are the goals for integration?  Is it to connet with others then Skype or blogging might be a great thing to learn about.  Is it to give students different project options then perhaps Animoto or Prezi are your venues.  Is it to give yourself more professional development then Twitter is a must.
  3. Do your research.  Reach out to others (through Twitter perhaps) and ask them what they use.  Google your needs, look at reviews, and then decide whether it is a good fit for you or not.   There are so many websites and blogs out there that do all the work for you, Rich Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers is a great place to begin!
  4. Chose a few.  While there are so many things out there technologically speaking it is best to choose a few to focus on.  I thought I was going to integrate many things the last year and it honestly just got too time consuming.  So align the technology with your goal (see number 2) and get ready to mess with it, and…
  5. Play.  Technology needs to be pretty self-explanatory and I better be able to figure it out within a short amount of time.  If it is something I am showing/using with my students then I better have it figured out within 5 minutes or so.  If it is for my own personal use, I give it 30 minutes but after that, no thanks.  Play with it, walk through it as your students will and learn a little about it.  Often this gets me more excited to use it.
  6. Again – how will you use it?  Now that you have decided on what to use, ask again whether this will work for your educational goal.  I love the idea of VoiceThread but found it too cumbersome for the presentation format so I went a different route.  Just because it is technology does not mean it is helpful.
  7. Stick with it.  The first couple of times I introduced new technology to my students I was a little bit apprehensive, after all, these were 4th graders I was asking to do the work.  And yet, they got it.  The beauty of technology integration also is that if one students gets it then they can also help you teach it to others.
  8. Embrace failure.  Go into this adventure knowing that things will break, signals will fail, and computers will crash.  Have a back up plan in mind that still accomplishes the same goal.  We have had missed Skype opportunities, blocked websites and overall disasters on our hands, but always managed to laugh about it and move on.  Don’t waste your time lamenting lost technology.
  9. Be courageous.  So what if you are the only one at your school trying this out; be the one who tries new things.  No one at my school was blogging before I started and now all of the 5th grade tried it as well.  You never know who will be inspired by you trying something out.
  10. Make it worthwhile.  I do not believe in tech for tech’s sake.  I only use it to further our learning goals and to broaden my students’ horizon, so use it in the right sense.  Students will respond and be engaged if they understand and see the genuine purpose, they will quickly lose interest if it does not further your purpose.  Remember technology is not always the answer to every lesson,  sometimes whipping out paper and pen can produce the same (and sometimes better) results.  So make sure you use it when it fits, not because you feel you have to.

cross-posted at pernillesripp.com.

Pernille Ripp is the the author of Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classroom Back to Our Students, creator of Global Read Aloud Project, and co-founder of EdCamp MadWI. She teaches fifth grade in Verona, Wisconsin, and blogs at http://pernillesripp.com.

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