Do We Need to Revisit Why Once in a While

The following is the introductory paragraph to Steve Wheeler’s 2/28/15 blog (”

Do teachers have a choice about whether to engage with technology? Technology is already so embedded in the fabric of schools, it’s probably unavoidable now. Whether it’s teacher technology, including wordprocessors, electronic record keeping or databases, or student technology, such as laptops, educational software or personal devices, technology should now be viewed as a set of tools that can be harnessed to extend, enhance and enrich the learning experience. Add the exponential power of the Web into the mix, and the argument becomes compelling. Technology offers us unprecedented opportunities to transform education. The question is not whether teachers should engage with technology, but how.”

I believe we may be so far into technology integration (infusion?) that most in education no longer question “whether” or why. As with any program, plan or procedure, technology integration needs a periodic is this worth the time, expense and effort? review. Dr. Puentedura’s SAMR model, for example, seems to assume that before student learning is significantly positively impacted the teacher must redesign, or better, create new learning tasks using technology. Is the corollary to that assumption that deep student learning cannot be achieved without technology? Do all courses and classes need to be transformed through technology integration? Would it be possible for students to become successful in the 21st Century and develop a life-long love of learning if, say, only 60% of the their classes were infused with technology and 40% were taught by experienced, determined and engaging teachers who loved their students and subject areas? What about a 20:80 or an 80:20 split? Would any of those be more or less successful than 100% and how would we know?

I would venture to say that the majority of K-12 professional development programs focus on technology integration rather than pedagogy in general and that most are of the workshop model, a method shown repeatedly to produce poor results. As with the multitude of teaching strategies, methods, and skills technology is just one tool. PD programs need to be planned and orchestrated through learning communities, teacher facilitated, focused on method implementation and targeted toward individual teacher needs. This means one-to-one or very small group sessions and whole lot of classroom coaching and mentoring.