Advancing the Integration Agenda

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 11.57.25 PM

What, exactly, makes technology perfectly suited to be integrated across the curriculum? Why is technology uniquely primed to enhance learning across subjects in ways that, say, grammatical skills in Language Arts or problem-solving approaches in Math are still most often taught as an isolated subject? How should students learn technology-related skills, and when should this learning take place?

These questions haunt me. They have been discussed in thousands of amateur blog posts, and also in a limited body of rigorous, peer-reviewed research. I read ISTE’s Journal of Research on Technology in Education every publishing and contrast its findings with the flashier tech-related Edutopia headlines, but the clarity I seek remains ahead of me.

Because this is the year I am trying to examine the semantic discourse of technology in education-related contexts, I should be as precise as possible and mention here that when I say Technology, I really mean the skills of using digital technology – the various applications of devices or pieces of software. When I refer to Integration, I mean the a model of embedding digital technology into classes and activities to support the learning of other subjects – and though I do say ‘other’ subjects, the essential issue is that Technology is not itself a subject with it’s own curriculum – not in Ontario, and not until Grade 9 – so the ideas that underpin a scope and sequence for a ‘Computers’ curriculum oriented towards the elementary and intermediate divisions of student learners is somewhat enigmatic to me, still. 

Fridge
Ideas go on the kitchen fridge whiteboard

A few of these ideas:

Seamless as measure of successful integration, here.

Tech Integration into teaching as pedagogy, with consideration to the resources available, here.

Categories of tech integration, such as Blended Classrooms and Games-Based Assessment, here.

The newest draft of the ISTE student standards lay claim to broad traits of learning students, such as Innovative Designer and Creator and Communicator. Surely the skills required for these important abilities cannot be solely the purview of Technology in Education. When 21st Century Skills are laid out in the P21 Framework, there are differentiations between Learning and Innovation Skills; Information, Media and Technology Skills; and Career and Life Skills in their grandest band – a grouping of kindred content cousins I can get behind, given April’s #CITE2016 panel discussion on the relationships among Media Literacy and Digital Technology Skills.

As I move forward in my work, schoolwide and with individual teachers, I really feel the need for a comprehensive vision of Technology in Education, schools, classrooms and students’ lives that blends research about the influence of digital technology on learning and teaching; notions of developmental readiness and age appropriateness; identified knowledge and skills of using technology itself in learning contexts and life; and attitudes towards how technology can amplify teaching content and relationships (good and bad), and enrich learning of all subject matter by empowering individual students and building stronger collectives in our small community.

As we reach the end of another wonderful year of Cohort 21, I am grateful for the deep experience and perspective this network of teachers offers to me as we learn together. I am inspired by the work being done across the cohort by teachers who participate and share so openly. I am humbled by our team of facilitators who model such strong leadership and community building. Thank you for the conversations that clarify and the ones that challenge. I’m looking forward to what’s to come.

Originally published: Apr 22, 2016

3 Replies to “Advancing the Integration Agenda”

  1. Hi Adam, this was a very thought-provoking read, thank you! It connected with many of my thoughts around information literacy, and what you say here particularly resonates:

    “As I move forward in my work, schoolwide and with individual teachers, I really feel the need for a comprehensive vision of Technology in Education, schools, classrooms and students’ lives that blends research about the influence of digital technology on learning and teaching; notions of developmental readiness and age appropriateness; identified knowledge and skills of using technology itself in learning contexts and life; and attitudes towards how technology can amplify teaching content and relationships (good and bad), and enrich learning of all subject matter by empowering individual students and building stronger collectives in our small community.”

    While it is true that everything–all the literacies–are connected, which is the argument for creating rich and integrated learning experiences, it is also true that they need to be defined and distinguished (tech literacy vs. digital literacy vs. infor literacy) to some extent even if only to make sure one of these is not getting the short end of the stick. One step forward I feel is to put our heads together (by “our” I mean specialists + subject teachers) and untangle the threads and then work on artful woven masterpieces!

  2. Holy Adam! Thank you for offering a glimpse into your ongoing understanding. I’m certain ALL of us appreciate the depth of your extremely thoughtful and extensively developed perspective – no matter how forever shifting it may be. You clearly are (and need to be) at the forefront of building that “comprehensive vision” of technology in education. I sense there are many “out there” who are desperate for that level of clarity and leadership. Go man!
    Beyond that, it’s awesome to get a taste of how the Cohort21 journey and joy manifests in your world. You nailed it! It IS exciting (and humbling) to participate alongside so many incredible educators…. like you! Having a venue to express, share, build, refine my passion for teaching and learning alongside so many who share the passion has been among the most exciting opportunities of my professional life.

Leave a Reply