‘Educational Technology’ is ubiquitous in Education, especially considering much of the Education realm is still adapting to the paradigm shift that the COVID-19 Pandemic has brought to us. Perhaps not as familiar or conversed about is Technology Integration into Teaching and Learning. Think about the new Educational models that we are offering, such as Face to Face, Remote or Distance Teaching and Learning, and Hybrid models, to name a few. Purchasing technology hardware and software to support and improve teaching practices and learner growth and achievement is likely happening in your learning community on some level, just as educational technology tools have more of a presence in professional learning and in the learning environment. We can no longer ignore the necessity nor consideration and intentional planning for seamless technology integration in our continuous improvement journey as systems thinkers for learner attainment to the more granular day to day operations for increased learners’ progress and achievement.
There is no one ‘best’ tool to improve teaching and learning because everything is relative in nature, unique to the needs of your learning community, supported by your data to make knowledge-based decisions. A major game-changer for me in my Educational journey, having served in roles as Educational Technology Integrator, Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and at present in the Vice-Principalship, is the term and notion of ‘high-leverage.’ What I really came to visualize in my own learning began in 2014, with the help and leadership of my team of Tech Integration Coordinators and fellow Content Curriculum Coordinators, was the planning and preparation process as a vehicle, packed with all the wonderful ‘tools’ on a journey highway toward continuous improvement, i.e., increased teaching and learning results.
For example, if our learning community has identified through some sort of root cause analysis protocol that a high- leverage practice is Dr. Ruben Puentadura’s SAMR model as a framework for planning and preparation, designed to help learners to show what they know and can do to increase learner achievement, our vehicle may be packed to include high-leverage technology tools that can be strategically and purposefully planned for integration and application transcending content areas and grade levels. In other words, high-leverage technology tools are intentionally selected for planning and are deemed appropriate to support the intended outcome, goal or learning objective through the phases of the learning that will occur. They are not the ‘hottest’ or ‘trendiest’ at the moment. Otherwise, we risk Infowhelm like a smorgasbord restaurant menu with superfluous choices that can distract us and impede our decision-making. Again, the tool becomes a high-leverage strategy, and the teacher driving the vehicle is supported by these tech strategies en route toward better teaching and learning. They are core tools because they yield desired results when teachers practice using the SAMR model and they can be applied across learning topics. High-leverage tech tools are fully integrated into the planning process as the teacher considers how to effectively engage and empower learners to show what they know and can do.
Another example might be if your learning community has identified Fisher and Frey Gradual Release of Responsibility Framework as a high-leverage practice for purposeful, intentional planning, which when applied with fidelity through proper supports, i.e., professional learning and repetition, can yield desired results in increased learner growth and achievement. The high-leverage technology integration tools become those strategies that fuel the vehicle, driven by the teacher, who can successfully plan for and apply the high-leverage practice of Gradual Release of Responsibility to quickly move learners along the journey for improved growth and attainment results. Naturally also packed in the vehicle to fuel the teacher’s journey toward greater learner achievement are other high-leverage tools. Examples might include research-based literacy practices, research-based assessment practices, teachers’ holistic knowledge about their individual learners and cohorts of learners, data for knowledge-based decision making, all packed inside the teacher’s vehicle.
When you think about your own organization, what is in your tool kit of technology integration tools to grow your teachers and learners?
How might technology integration tools already be strategically aligned to identified high leverage practices in your own continuous school improvement journey?
Ideas, philosophies, curiosities, and examples to stretch thinking are always welcome and highly encouraged. Let’s continue the dialogue together. Leave a comment, a discussion question or reach out!