Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Reflections on a Technology Integration Project

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Reflections on a Technology Integration Project

Article excerpt

Technology-Enhanced Learning Outcomes (TELO) is the name of a grant funded by the Ohio Learning Network (Kovalik, 1999). The project was designed to help K-12 classroom teachers integrate technology by having teams of undergraduate education students design and develop technology-enhanced instructional units using existing curriculum topics. Each team of students was paired with a K-12 teacher who selected a curriculum topic. The students were then to develop an instructional unit that integrated technology while matching specified curriculum goals. The purpose of the case study was to investigate the nature and quality of TELO instructional units. The instructional units were examined and critiqued by the technology applications course instructor, an instructional designer, and the respective classroom teacher. The quality of the completed instructional units varied, but overall, the products did not meet intended project outcomes. The instructional units reflected traditional teacher-centered strategies, us ed technology in predictable, low-level ways, and were disjointed instead of being learner-centered, technologically innovative, and cohesive. Results indicated that undergraduate education students may not have been able to effectively transfer and apply knowledge and skills learned from their education courses to the project and thus were hindered in their ability to produce high-quality technology-enhanced instructional units. Difficulty in transferring knowledge may be due to an educational system that tends to keep courses isolated and separate rather than connected and interrelated.

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Emphasis on the use of technology for learning by school administrators, state departments of education, and federal government programs has led to the development of policies, plans, and associated reform efforts that strongly support the use and integration of technology (Means, Blando, Olson, Morrocco, Remz, & Zorfass, 1993; Mellon, 1999). Since adoption and diffusion models suggest all participants must be included in decisions regarding an innovation (Ellsworth, 2000; Holloway, 1996), administrative directives or technology projects that urge teachers to implement these technology plans and policies in the classroom often meet with mixed results due to the complex nature of the schooling enterprise.

Teachers find that integrating technology requires attention to dimensions beyond those normally associated with planning instruction. These dimensions include the need to select and evaluate software and other technology resources, determine if students have the necessary technology skills or need to learn them, modify or develop appropriate instructional plans, juggle classroom management issues, and define ways to adequately assess student work. The combination of these tasks can be daunting since they tend to be time consuming and are typically done "in addition to" rather than "instead of' teachers' normal responsibilities.

The use and integration of technology also is being strongly encouraged in teacher education programs. While most teacher education programs are able to equip their students with basic knowledge and skills in the mechanics of using technology (Milken Exchange on Educational Technology, 1999), there is not widespread success in equipping students with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively integrate technology to improve student learning (Ertmer, 1999; Parks & Pisapia, 1994; Schrum, 1999; Willis, Thompson, & Sadera, 1999).

Collaborative partnerships between K- 12 teachers and undergraduate education students may be one way to address these technology integration issues. TELO is a project funded by the Ohio Learning Network that uses collaboration to achieve technology integration. The TELO project paired teams of undergraduate students with K- 12 classroom teachers to develop technology-enhanced instructional units. The undergraduate students were enrolled in a technology course. …

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