Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Technology Integration: Looking at the Big Picture

As has been previously discussed, introducing staff to “blogging” is only the first step in a program of technology integration. The ultimate goal is to have teachers become comfortable with technology and find ways to integrate these into their teaching practices. The first goal is getting teachers to move from using technology in “domesticating” ways and make the transition to “liberating” (Subramaniam, 2006).

David Warlick’s blog called: A Path to Becoming a 21st Century Literate Educator provides a self-development guide for educators who wish to expand their own learning about technology. He gives some suggestions which still have relevance in the planning of a larger group professional development initiative. Some of his suggestions include:

· identify the teachers in your school who have expertise, and draw on their support

· begin working with someone in your school or district who can provide technical support and configuration, if you require this

· prepare a wiki for posting notes, links, and step-by-step instructions

· model your work as a fellow-learner; sharing your reflections on what you are learning and how you are learning it

Teachers will be at various places in their skill development with Web 2.0 technologies. It is extremely important that they have “just-in-time” support when they require it. Providing a strong support structure and resources will be a key factor in making this professional development successful. An excellent example of the kind of online resource support I would hope to provide can be seen at Web 2.0 For Teachers and Educational Software and Web 2.0. These fantastic sites provide well-organized links, tutorials, etc. to support teachers while learning about Web 2.0.

Adding to “The Toolbox”

According to Richardson, there are several key technologies which promise to change the way we teach and learn (pp. 8-9):
* weblogs (blogs)
* wikis
* aggregators
* social bookmarking
* online photo galleries
* audio/video-casting

These Web 2.0 tools are ones which allow for publishing content, manage content, and share content in collaborative ways.

As I mentioned in my introduction, blogging is an important starting point for becoming comfortable with Web 2.0. Blogs provide a foundation or springboard for other Web 2.0 tools, as many of the concepts are transferable to learning about and understanding other web tools.

Access to Web 2.0

A major factor in the implementation of any computer related technology and the Internet must fall under the Acceptable Use Policy of school and school division. Some school divisions have blocks or filters which do not allow for access to some of these Web 2.0 tools. For example, my division has only recently allowed for teachers to access videosharing sites such as YouTube, but student access is still blocked. As administrators, teachers and parents come to see the educational value in using Web 2.0 tools in the classroom, these barriers will come down.

Scaffolding the Bigger Plan for Professional Development

Consider the process of “building” as a metaphor for learning about Web 2.0 tools.

Knowledge needs a foundation, or a starting point; a place where one can relate back to and connect new learning. In my opinion, blogs can provide this foundation for learning about Web 2.0. And perhaps similar to pouring concrete, it may take a while for a strong foundation to become established and ready to hold more weight. This is best done when there is support in place; teacher mentoring and collaboration.

Each new Web 2.0 tool that we learn about rests on the foundation. We can start to see the interconnectivity of these tools, and how they can be used together to create and learn. The shape of structure starts to emerge…

Several web sites exist which are dedicated to building teacher knowledge with Web 2.0 technologies. Sites such as School Library Learning 2.0 and Learning 2.0 Challenge provide step by step instructions and forums to guide teachers. These sites provide many ideas for how professional development can be “scaffolded” for an entire staff.

Professional development instructional sessions must be reinforced and supported through mentorship, regular meetings, resources and guides.

Teachers may be given the same tools to work with, but how and what they construct for their own classroom uses will vary! The potential of using web 2.0 tools in education is unlimited!


Richardson, W. (2006). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Corwin Press: Thousand Oakes, CA.

Subramaniam, K. (2006). Teachers' mindsets and integration of computer technology. The British journal of educational technology 38(6), 1056-1071.

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