Sunday, December 14, 2014

Integration -v- implementation

I work at a school where there seems to be a good balance between integration and implementation of technology.  We have a Director of Technology Support and a Director of Educational Technology for each campus.  As I read through the IBO's pre-publication of The Role of Technology in the IB Programmes the section about integration and implementation rings very true.  This is how the IB defines it:
  • Technology integration concerns the role technology plays in learning as well as how we incorporate technology literacy concepts into teaching and learning.  Technology integration is part of the role of all educators, supported by our tech integration coaches and directors of ed tech.
  • Technology implementation is the process of acquiring and introducing devices and applications as well as managing systems that support technology use.  IT technicians and budget holders usually address implementation.  This is interesting to me too because again it is very typical of our structure at ASB with our directors of technology support, technicians and educational technology assistants.
There is a great diagram about these differences which I'm going to reproduce here.
I think the important thing here is that while both of these are very necessary, often these roles are confused or done by the same people wearing two hats.  It takes a lot of experience and training to distinguish between them and then to put integration first.  When I read that sentence for the first time it was like a blinding flash of light - all too often the people with the money, making the purchasing decisions and so on, are totally removed from the integration and so they put implementation first.  In almost every school I've been in that has been the case, and I have had to point out that the most important consideration in all of this is student learning.  The IBO publication points out that an approach that is dominated by implementation is device-driven.  It is focused on HOW to use the technology and not WHY to use it.  When administrators make statements about there being no evidence that technology improves learning I can guarantee they are coming from these schools - where the conversation is about devices ("We are going to put SMARTboards into every classroom", for example).  It is integration that makes the difference to student learning:  "pedagogy and instruction can and should be supported by devices, not the other way round ... technology integration requires a different kind of thinking, one that erases discussions of devices altogether, only reintroducing them after pedagogical aims have been addressed."  I couldn't agree more!

Photo Credit: Barrett.Discovery via Compfight cc

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