Those who integrate technology into the classroom are classroom technology integrators.
Those who innovate the classroom using technology are classroom technology innovators.
Catch the difference? It’s more than just the difference between the definition of integration and innovation.
Technology integration is easy. As integration means just bringing previously separate things together, you can ‘integrate technology’ by using netbooks in your classroom or introducing a new website to your students.
Don’t get me wrong – it is still a step in the right direction, but integration of technology into the classroom by definition means that you will be bringing together previously developed technology and previously developed curricula. At the initial stages of learning educational technology, many people are technology integrators. You learn a tech tool and then you apply your previous lesson plan to that tech tool. Perhaps instead of having students use PowerPoint as a presentation tool you now allow them to choose between Prezi and PowerPoint. Don’t be discouraged if this is you! You are still doing more than many people in your building I bet. But read on because you can’t stay a tech integrator forever.
You know what is surprising? You can be teaching in a 1:1 iPad class and still only be a technology integrator – believe me, I’ve seen it. Allowing the power of your content in combination with the capabilities of your technology to work together and create enriched opportunities for students is what pushes you to the next level of classroom technology implementation – an innovator.
It is not enough to be a technology integrator anymore. We are too good at technology and we are too good at education and teaching for us to just slam the two together and be happy with it. To be a classroom technology innovator, you need to revolutionize your classroom with the help of instructional technology.
But was does that mean? What does that look like?
That question is exactly what it means to be a technology innovator. Bringing technology into the classroom will look different for each classroom. Implementations of educational technology should be dependent on your curriculum, intended goals, available technology, and student skill level. By asking yourself the question – ‘What could that look like?’ you open a dialog about what you need to accomplish in the classroom and what technology you can find or implement to help that happen.
It’s not easy – it is a challenge. It takes knowing your content and then also knowing what technology options exist to help achieve your goals. It takes breaking out of the mold and trying new lessons that appropriately harness technology as opposed to integrating a website for the sake of adding new technology.
I constantly say that technology for the sake of technology is not productive. This is the heart of understanding the difference between a classroom technology integrator and innovator.
It may sound as if I am coming down on technology integration. That is not the case. If you are a technology innovator you are also a technology integrator by default. My concern is that we are stuck in the other pattern where we get really good at integrating technology and never stop to think about how technology can innovate our classrooms.