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Integrating Technology 
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I.  Definition of Training Piece

A.  Purpose for Instructor

"Integrating technology"--what does that mean? After all, technology is a tool--a means, not an end. Isn't talking about "integrating technology" in one's instructional process therefore, like having a discussion about integrating the use of pens and pencils in the classroom? Or integrating the use of telephones into one's daily life? Ideally, integrating computer-based resources into the teaching and learning process would be as natural and veritably intuitive as picking up a phone to call your best friend. But computer-based technology resources are still fairly new to many. In their youth, other technologies that we now take for granted--electricity and telephones for instance--went through this same explicitly focused "integrative process".

For faculty, the downside of this process is both the time commitment it often requires, and knowing where and how even to begin. Identifying, locating, evaluating, determining ways to use these resources, and then actually creating the lesson plans that integrate them, can consume dozens of hours. The focus of this module, therefore, is to identify techniques and resources to assist faculty in reducing the time commitment it takes to begin to effectively integrate computer-based resources.

B.  Material Covered

In a previous module we identified a number of new technologies. These included asynchronous tools such as email, listservs and newsgroups; web pages for delivery of content, lessons, exercises and tests; and synchronous communication tools such as MOOs (virtual environments/chat rooms), ICQ, and Instant Messenger. Our focus here, then, is not necessarily on materials or tools per se, but rather on how to effectively go about integrating these tools--what are the steps, and how can one reduce the time and effort entailed in utilizing them?

II.  Foundation

A.  Definition of Concept & Theory

Before moving on, however, there is an assumption regarding the role of computer and web based resources for teaching and learning purposes that we need to make explicit. In a scale of technology integration (see below), we may see on one extreme end the "Anytime/Anywhere" model. Such a model typically excludes synchronous activities as antithetical to the anytime/anywhere concept. At the other extreme (but not terminating because we can go back centuries to include the use of earlier technologies) is the traditional classroom instructional model which limits the teaching and learning process to the confines of both time and place.

In between these extremes we have the model that this module works under-- that of technology in the service of a somewhat traditional teaching and learning process. This may practically look like anything from a traditional learning environment that happens to utilize some of these technology tools for amplification, dissemination and/or communication. Or it may be a fully on-line course with no face-to-face time, which retains the feel of some of the social aspects of the traditional classroom through the use of a variety of communication tools. This middle ground is where the bulk of technology integration takes place and thus where our focus will lie.

One question we may ask is why bother using these tools in the first place? The simple answer would be to say that the more tools instructors have in their toolboxes, the greater the range of expression options, and techniques they have to do their jobs. But in the case of technology tools, the answer extends beyond this simple face-value response.

These technology tools serve to expand the teaching and learning process in ways that traditional tools were never able to, for example, in bringing current events from the perspective of other countries and cultures directly to the students' screen. Social, political and historical discussions (not to mention the students' own perceptions) are significantly altered through such immediate contact with the opinions and experiences of others. Additionally, communication among students, and between students and teachers is significantly expanded through some of these tools. Furthermore, the learning experience can extend well beyond the walls of the classroom and into both other learning spaces, as well as into real-world interactions.

B.  Summary of Relevant Research

Very little research on effective integration relates to post-secondary education, but rather focuses on the K-12 environment. The little that does relate to higher education typically revolves around the institution's responsibilities and needs relative to supporting faculty integration of technology. That is, research by instructional development and media specialists looking at what infrastructures--in terms of hardware and software as well as training support--are needed to effect a transition among faculty to the use of computer technologies. This is useful to us here in that the outcomes of these concerns--the campus support networks--will be one of the resources we point you towards as you progress in your own attempts at integrating these technologies. Furthermore, K-12 research is not completely irrelevant to higher education; there are many strategies and much information that can cross over to post-secondary applications.

A UCLA report on a FIPSE project on integrating technology in the undergraduate curriculum concluded that teaching with new technologies both stimulates an increased and more effective use of more traditional technologies and tends to make instructors better at and more interested in addressing student needs in general. Furthermore, it can also generate more concrete curricular innovation. It certainly makes sense that faculty who are willing to take the plunge into new teaching techniques using computing resources would also be generally more open to a employing a variety of new techniques and approaches.

As teachers, we tend to teach the way we like to learn. A study by Kolb found significant discrepancies between students' preferred learning styles and the expectations within their disciplines. The chart below highlights some of these differences in style.

Preferences Patterns of Faculty and Students

 

Faculty

Students

Extroverted

46%

70%

Introverted

54%

30%

Sensing

36%

70%

Intuitive

64%

30%

By providing multiple sensorial and experiential opportunities (audio, visual, manipulation of and interaction with materials), technology resources provide tools for addressing differences among students' learning styles, as well as between teachers' and students' learning preferences.

III.  Benefits

A.  Instructor

Integrating technology resources provides teachers with a variety of benefits. Among these are included:

  1. Enhancing learning resources--This happens when instructors specify sites for students for students to review as well as when students encounter and research sites themselves. Because web pages can be more current than published texts, web updates to and expansions on to published information can augment course content.
  2. Expanding modes of communication--Technology provides a means for students to interact with one another more readily outside the classroom through email, listservs and ICQ. These expanded modes of communication are a two-edged sword for instructors, often requiring more instructor time for the expanded possibilities for student-teacher communications.
  3. Amplifying discussion opportunities--the limited meeting times of the traditional class impact the amount of time students have to reflect, discuss, and augment course content. Listservs and newsgroups provide an opportunity to extend class discussion time and make it available to students and instructors on an "anytime/anywhere" basis. Deeper understanding of course content can be developed through such discussions.
  4. Insuring student access to course information--lost syllabi, homework instructions, etc. are eliminated as excuses when these materials are readily available online.
  5. Capturing student participation and production--a logistical benefit to instructors is the ability to capture student participation and production through their postings to newsgroups, listservs, and in their synchronous online discussions. Students or instructors can compile course portfolios to illustrate student progress and participation.

B.  Student

Benefits to the student include addressing learning styles differences, disabilities, time and space constraints and the ability to review further, to provide for self-directed study and real-world applicability of course content.

"Blending appropriate technology tools into the curriculum supports many of the dimensions of learning described by Marzano (1992) in his book, Dimensions in Learning. His model establishes a learning environment in which students develop positive attitudes and perceptions about learning, in which they have experiences where they can acquire and integrate knowledge, where they have opportunities for extending and refining knowledge, [and] where they can use knowledge in a meaningful way." (from: Handler, M., Integrating Technology into the Instructional Process)

IV.  Implementation

A.  Exploration Exercises for Instructor

Task 1: Start with the "New Technologies" module if you are not already familiar with a variety of technology tools (many mentioned here). The exercises in that module also provide some orientation to approaching the integration of tech resources.

Task 2: Go to UCLA's Faculty New Media Center site. This is the most focused resource I know of on integrating technology for higher education. Keeping in mind the tools you found interesting and possibly useful in the New Technologies exploration, browse this site. With the suggestions provided, how can you apply some of these technologies to your current instructional environments?

Task 3: Check out Ten Principles of Wise Media Use (also from UCLA's FNMC).

Look at principals 3, 4 and 5 in particular. Efficient integration of technology almost always includes these points. For example, rather than thinking about what you can make the technology do, consider what the students can do with that technology. The questions under Principal 3 are very useful ones to ask yourself as you consider a technology resource. "Making the medium fit the content" (Principal 4) has a correlate of "pulling from your curriculum." That is, using a technology resource should not necessarily be an additive function but rather a means by which you can do what you're currently doing but in a better way. Sometimes this means more work, but always it should mean a more meaningful and/or effective learning experience for the student.

B.  As you integrate technology into your curriculum, keep in mind the following tips:

  1. Start small so you can build with confidence
  2. Beg and borrow (but don't steal) wherever you can. There are many teacher-developed resources that are explicitly available for sharing, editing and amending (Track Star, for example, is one that comes to mind). One of the great advantages of the Internet is the opportunity it provides for us to build upon one another's efforts rather than individually co- and re-inventing the same materials.
  3. Harvest from your students. You might be pleasantly surprised at the resources they can bring to your attention.
  4. Get to know your campus faculty computing support folks. They are often quite pleased to find faculty who come to them interested in integrating tech resources, and supportive of those faculty's efforts and interests.
  5. Network with computing-using colleagues. This is one of the most direct ways to find useful materials and approaches for their integration. Again, it's the concept of building upon one another's efforts.
  6. Get to know the tech publications and organizations within your discipline. This is another invaluable source for new ideas to apply to your instructional purposes.

C.  Student Exercises

This is an exercise for student and teacher alike. Do you know your own style? How does it correspond to those of your students? You can find out by taking an online survey at the DVC Learning Style Survey for College site. Complete the survey and compare your results. Are there any surprises? What technology tools might you use to fill in the gaps between your approaches and your students' needs?

D.  Skill Connection

1. Online Activities & Communities: As mentioned in this module, one of the greatest benefits of technology is the ability for instructors and student to continue to build the classroom community outside of the classroom. For information of developing on-line communities, visit the Online Activities & Communities module.

V.  Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I want to create a course web page. What's the best way to get this done?

A: See Tip #4 above. I always recommend that faculty find out what-- if any--web development software is recommended and/or supported by your campus computing or faculty development services. By starting there, you insure that you won't be learning this all on your own. Furthermore, it may be that your campus has adopted a course delivery system like Zebu, WebCT, Blackboard, etc. If so, you may have ready-made templates for creating your web page.

Q: What tool is the best to start with?

A: Answering this by naming a tool would be like telling the soon-to-be building owner which tool is best to use in constructing her edifice. In both cases, the tool needs to fit the task (see Principal #4 in Ten Principals of Wise Media Use above). Know your goals and review the technology options with those goals in mind. You will find no single tool that is suited for all your instructional and learning needs.

Q: Are there workshops or other opportunities to further expand my ability to integrate tech resources?

A: There may be several depending upon your discipline. The computing-using special interest group of your favorite professional organization may provide sessions and workshops at its annual conference. Campuses often host faculty development workshops and/or are willing to host them upon faculty request. Houghton Mifflin and other corporate organizations may have workshops on this topic for your discipline. Finally, there are numerous free, online development programs available on periodic bases (check out Virtual University for example).

VI.  Helpful Resources

HPRTEC Integrating Technology
Helping teachers integrate technology into their curriculum and class environment is one of the main goals of this site. Here you'll find stories about that process, and numerous examples of how technology integration can be accomplished.

The Faculty Connection
This website is designed to assist faculty of post-secondary institutions in becoming familiar with issues, examples and discussion topics associated with using emerging technologies in teaching and learning. Using this educational resource, faculty are encouraged to travel the web at a comfortable pace to identify where courses are offered over the Internet, how technology can be used in the classroom, and to discuss issues that will affect them in the future.

EDTECH Listserv
The EDTECH listserv is the discussion list for teachers from novice to expert on everyday use of educational technology in the classroom. The quality and quantity of messages is exceptional ranging from the highly specific to the big picture issues.

Classroom Management: Integrating Technology Centers Into The Classroom
K-12 classroom ideas, many of which are adaptable to the post secondary environment

TappedIn
TappedIn is a education-oriented MOO which offers services to multiple educational organizations including MathStar, the National Institute for Science Education, ED's Oasis and Blazing Learning Trails.

Kolb, D.A. (1981). Learning styles and disciplinary differences. In Arthur Chickering and Associates (ed.), The Modern American College (pp. 232-255). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Workshop Information

www.facultytraining.com
To attend a workshop on this topic or bring one to your campus, visit this site or call Faculty Training at (800) 856-5727.



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