Sunday, October 7, 2012

Using Technology -v- Integrating Technology

My role on the R&D Core Team involves looking at emerging technologies that will become important for student learning and getting the school ready to implement them in the future through prototyping them now.  At the moment our group is looking at the research that indicates users are moving beyond a single device (at present a laptop) and are using secondary mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.  Our BYOD - Device 2 R&D Task Force is currently in the research stage - we are investigating mobile technology integration with a second device - and one of the books I've read as part of this research is Kipp D Rogers' book Mobile Learning Devices.

It's very clear to me that there is a vast difference between using technology and integrating technology.  Many schools who claim to be integrating technology are, in my opinion, simply using it, because they have not yet questioned and identified the reasons for using technology.  Indeed I've come across administrators in those schools who have been unable to articulate the ways that technology can transform learning - they are still talking about it "enhancing" learning or calling technology "a tool".  In such places, it's not surprising to find that some teachers are simply using technology for technology's sake, without developing the habits of mind necessary for the true embedding of technology into their pedagogy.  On the other hand, as Kip Rogers writes, I've also experienced schools and classrooms where:
True integration of technology happens ... where technology is accessible and available for activities as they are initiated.  True integration of technology happens when form supports function when the tools support the goals of the curriculum and assist students in reaching their instructional goals.
For technology to be accessible and available for activities as they are initiated does imply a 1:1 programme or access to the students' own mobile devices.   In schools that don't have such a programme it's not always easy to plan for such spontaneous use of technology if you have to book a cart of laptops or a lab.

The TPACK framework seeks to address integration through a close relationship between three forms of knowledge:  content, pedagogy and technology.  Research shows that authentic technology integration occurs "when there is an understanding and explicit negotiation of the relationships among these three components" and that to be a successful integrator involves a teacher being capable of using all these relationships:  this teacher possesses an expertise that is considerably different from and greater than someone with knowledge in just one of them.

Reading this was an Aha moment for me.  It explains why I was frustrated in getting true technology integration at a previous school.  The emphasis was too much on one of these forms of knowledge, and not on the interplay between them.

Now that we are considering prototyping the use of a second mobile device, I feel it's important to examine these three facets and the relationships between them.  When considering learning and the use of  the many possible BYOD2s that students may have and bring to school, we all need to be very clear about how good teaching requires an understanding of how technology relates to both the pedagogy and the content of our programmes.  We need to be sure that we are truly integrating and not just using the BYOD2s.

The TPACK image is free to use and reproduce with attribution.


  1. Couple the TPACK framework with the SAMR model and you have a beautiful marriage that truly supports the movement from simply using technology to enhance student learning to integrating technology to transform learning. To learn more about the SAMR Model and the work of Dr. Ruben Puentadura visit his blog.

  2. Thanks for this blog post. I was HS/MS Tech Coordinator at ASB 1995-98 and it was a fantastic experience. I love to come back to ASB Unplugged because the conference is so authentic and shows how ASB is truly a learning school. From your article and opinion, I was just wondering what you think about using the description Technology infusion from Technology integration?

  3. Lisette, I love the SAMR model and have been using it for years (there are several blog posts I've made about how we have used it - you can search the blog to find out more.

    Mrs Pratt, great to hear from you. I like the way that infusion refers to the introduction of something new. I often use the word embed instead of integrate when I refer to how we use technology, to highlight the fact that it is an essential part of what we do. At ASB we often refer to technology as being part of the DNA of the school.

  4. Come to think of it, there is some weight in your argument about people and organizations merely using--but not integrating--technology into their system. If people really want to integrate technology, they have to fully understand that it is not only a tool, but a vital part of the system's functions as a whole.