A Technology Integration Vision Statement
Imagine being locked in a dark room. You know there is a key somewhere in the room that will lead you to freedom, you just have to create enough light to find it. First, you use a tool that extends as far back as mankind itself. Making sparks from flint and steel, you struggle to create a light source that will last long enough for you to locate the key. After many lackluster attempts you realize that this method is never going to work for the task at hand. Next, you notice what appears to be a window in the room but it is far away and in this blackness you can not judge the distance nor are you are sure of the path it will take to reach it. You attempt to feel your way around the room looking for a way to the window or a solid foothold that will allow you to climb up and uncover the window once you reach your destination. However, only minutes into your attempts to maneuver through the room and ascend the wall you realize this task is more daunting than it initially appeared; you are not Spiderman and the room lacks the support you need to reach the window. Finally you stop to gather your wits and create a plan. It is with this pause and reflection that you realize your cell phone is in your pocket. Not only is it fully charged but you conveniently have an app that turns the flash on your phone’s camera into a bright as day flashlight. Using the flashlight you quickly locate the room’s light switch and upon the simple flip of that switch you find that the door was not only unlocked but it wasn’t even closed. This is the metaphorical representation of my technology integration vision statement. By creating a plan for the task at hand, an educator can and will most assuredly pave the way for students to use technology and find or perhaps open their own doors throughout their educational journey.
Though it seems unquestionable that in this day in age we should be integrating technology in a variety of ways to best serve our students as they head out into this 21st century world; it is not enough to just use technology with wide eyed ignorance, blinded by the newest and shiniest piece of equipment in the room. Through purposeful inclusion into one’s repertoire of teaching tools, technology is the umbrella that incorporates many issues we tackle every day in education and in life itself, as the two are so closely intertwined. Take for example, motivation. We hear this word in educational circles constantly. We love when our students are “motivated” and “engaged”. Teachers and researches are on the constant hunt for the secret to creating and keeping both of these things alive and constant for students. It seems simple if one is to remove these two words education seclusion and apply them to life in general. Suddenly the issue seems so clear. People want to be heard. They want to know the answer to the age old question of why. They yearn for information about topics that they believe in, are passionate about. They want to know about the world around them. The need to know how they will be affected by decisions they have no say in and what they can do to contribute or battle back against issues, actions, or people they do not support. It is human nature to function with these points of inquiry in mind and thus our students want in on such conversations. Technology allows us to address and tackle all of these topics and coincidentally by giving students a platform where they have the ability to be involved in a larger discussion regarding their world we will tap into their natural motivation and most definitely keep them engaged.
The opportunity described above is where it is pivotal that we devise a plan for teaching with technology. A plan that addresses legal, ethical, cultural and equity issues. A plan that empowers students to use technology as a tool, when most appropriate and in the most positive and successful way possible. If we do not plan for success regarding these issues and their connection to technology we are back in that same dark room, thinking the door is locked, and looking for a key out. But instead of taking the time to weigh our options and test different light sources, we start a bonfire with gas and a match. Because of lack of planning or forethought, we create the disaster that leads to our own demise. The biggest issue we face when incorporating technology into education is that we must ensure the technological world which gives us the power to connect with others in more areas than ever before isn’t the catalyst that separates us beyond repair.
So how do we ensure we keep technological integration controlled and productive? We teach the student not only how to use the tool but how to be a successful citizen of their world as well. Education has and will always be the most dangerous enemy to ignorance. It will not be enough to use technology to support just our goals related to the content we teach. Luckily, many teachers I know and believe this as a whole for the profession, understand that we are much more than just language or math or art teachers. We are in many ways life mentors and our task is much more complicated than teaching students to form an appropriate sentence or solve an equation. Ask just about anyone you meet and they can name at least one teacher or role model that influenced their life in some manner. This notion connects my technology integration vision to the theories I find most closely support it.
First is Bandura’s Social Learning Theory. This theory supports the idea that children will learn from and model their behaviors after those in their surrounding environment. As technology opened the door to the creation of larger and more diverse surrounding environments, this must be remembered in regards to our children. Gone are the times in which a child’s world is small and protected by the guardians in their life choosing who to let into the child’s world as an influence. Now, with the simple click of a button our children have access to people all over the world and sadly not all of them are ones in which we want our children emulating the actions of. Keeping this theory in mind it is pivotal to educate the students in our classroom on the powers of technology and how these are used for great things but also used to promote questionable matters, untruths, and downright vile matter as well. Regardless of the content in which we are using said technology a conversation must be had exploring the power of technology and how that pendulum swings both ways, so that our students do not naively set out on a course of destruction.
Building upon this and further supporting my technology integration vision is John Dewey’s Social Activism Theory. Mr. Dewey viewed education as a journey in which we are constantly learning and evolving, much in tune to that in which I previously detailed in regards to at teacher being a life mentor in addition to a content specialist. On this journey Dewey believed that students developed their relationships to society and their unique roles in it (Robler, 2016). Regardless of our specified contents as educators, we have a responsibility to help our students along this journey and help them see how they can not only use technology to aide them in their schooling but also in their lives. How they can utilize technology as a platform in which they can be heard, make a difference, explore the world, and all the while do so in a safe, effective, and productive way. If our implementation of technology is paired with discussions or lessons centered around appropriate use of social media or the repercussions of sending information out into the unforgiving world of cyberspace we can aid our students in their use of technology for not only our content areas but also as digital citizens and unique members of their society.
By reducing their ignorance to the power of technology we can increase our student’s abilities to navigate through the technological world successfully and thus become productive citizens in their digital and physical worlds. With this opportunity in mind, purposeful technological integration requires teachers to shape instruction for good (Robler, 2016) and aid students as they tackle various intellectual challenges on their paths to self efficacy. As educators, we know our time with each student is limited. We must one day let our students trust their own wings and hope the lessons they’ve learned through us are enough to power them on their journey to their next destination. Self efficacy, or the confidence in one’s wings, is the biggest gift we can give our students through our integration of technology.
To see a visual representation of this vision statement click here.
- Robler, M. (2016). Integrating Technolody into Teaching (7th Ed.). Massachusetts: Pearson
- Social Learning Theory Bandura Social Learning Theory. (2016, September 14). Retrieved January 22, 2017, from https://www.learning-theories.com/social-learning-theory-bandura.html
- John Dewey. (2014, April 02). Retrieved January 22, 2017, from http://www.biography.com/people/john-dewey-9273497#synopsis