To start this course, we are learning about the Technology Integration Matrix (TIM), which is a tool that provides teachers with a framework to categorize the use of technology in their classrooms. TIM is based two variables, the level of technology integration in the classroom and characteristics of the learning environment. Basically, TIM describes five levels of technology use: entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, and transformation. It also delineates five attributes of the learning environment: active, collaborative, constructive, authentic, and goal directed. You can read more about the specifics of TIM here.
Before I address the two questions for the weekly reflection, I would like to briefly consider the real benefits and goals of technology integration in the classroom. The purpose of TIM is to illustrate and classify how meaningful technology integration is student learning. I think we can all agree that technology has the capacity to enhance learning but does it significantly alter the content of what we are learning or how we are learning? My hunch is that it changes the “how” more than the “what.” Either way, is using technology in the classroom significantly more efficient and effective?
While a multitude of empirical studies most likely exist to answer this question, I think looking at some of TIM’s examples of technology integration lesson plans can aide in answering this question, while also generating new ones and addressing the first reflection prompt of describing one compelling TIM lesson plan and one eyebrow raising one.
For the “eyebrow raising” incorporation of technology, I turn to a social studies lesson plan that utilizes a concept mapping technology, called Inspiration. I used Inspiration a few times during middle school and I can attest that it is a neat little program that makes aesthetically pleasing diagrams and thought webs; however, I can also say that such concept maps could easily be hand drawn. While diagrams may not look as polished handwritten, I think they work equally as well Inspiration diagrams. I cannot say I ever learned more or been particularly more engaged while creating a web or diagram on the computer. With good reason, this lesson falls under the “adoption” category of TIM, described as “the teacher direct[ing] students in the conventional and procedural use of technology tools.”
I think the more compelling case for technology integration is illustrated by a social studies lesson on animal habitats, using GPS and digital cameras. Not only does this lesson plan demonstrate a more practical, real world usage of technology, the lessons lays out clear tasks and provokes higher order thinking, such as interpreting data and presenting new questions. I believe this lesson actually enhances and alters the learning process. By being able take pictures, collaborate, and use GPS, the students are participating in a learning environment that would have otherwise been impossible and non-existent without the technology (the definition of TIM’s transformation level). This lesson combines the highest levels of thinking and technology usage, which suggests that to use technology in the most meaningful way, the teacher must go “whole hog” with it.
To answer the aforementioned question of whether or not technology significantly improves the learning process, the Technology Integration Matrix and lesson plans built around it imply that it depends on how the technology is implemented.
Returning to the second prompt for INDT’s Week 1 Reflection, one example of technology I have repeatedly seen used first hand in the classroom is the interactive white boards. Where the usage of it falls in TIM depends largely on how the teacher utilizes interactive white boards for instruction. Sadly, I would say most teachers simply adopt the technology to use in place of traditional tools. For instance, they use it to display classroom notes and lecture. Furthermore, interactive white boards are often used in a way that is not even listed in the Technology Integration Matrix and that defeat the purpose of interactive white boards—by this I mean teachers use to promote a passive learning environment. In effort to not be a total “Debbie downer” about interactive white boards, I can say that I have seen some appropriate, engaging, constructive uses of interactive white boards.
One of my eighth grade practicum teachers used the interactive white board to create a fun environment for learning about art history. She would allow the students to analyze artwork by “magnifying” elements of paintings with a sheet of paper placed in front of the projector. Students would then discuss and analyze what the magnified element contributed to their understanding of the piece and the implications of including such elements in the painting. I think this example of technology integration falls somewhere between active adoption and active infusion on TIM.