Leaping into Transforming Instruction
by Jill Hobson
For many years, I sought the right words to describe my vision for instructional technology. It’s not that I didn’t know what I wanted, but being able to clearly and succinctly describe I.T. was a struggle. A lesson that I’ve learned is that agreeing on a common language across stakeholders is job one for creating systemic change in any area.
There are quite a few different schemas for addressing effective use of classroom technology including Levels of Technology Integration (LoTi), Grappling’s Spectrum of Technology Uses and the Technology Integration Matrix, just to name a few.
Each offers a unique way of looking at the question of what is effective technology use. Though different, there are some common themes. Consider these:
- Student choice
- Student knowledge construction
- Higher-level thinking
- Collaboration and communication outside of the classroom
- Authentic tasks
These ideas work in harmony with other instructional and pedagogical principles because the truth is transformational use of technology really isn’t about the technology; it’s about the instruction and learning.
It’s especially heartening to see the connections to the transition to Common Core Curriculum. Some of the key shifts in the CCSS include evidence-based answers, more work with non-fiction, increased rigor and application of concepts to new settings.
If transforming instruction begins with developing a common vocabulary across school district staff, there are key strategies that leaders can employ. Work with the key staff responsible for integrating technology into the classroom, which could include media specialists, instructional technology specialists, academic coaches or teacher representatives. These key individuals need practice reviewing student work and conducting learning walks to identify patterns of technology use. Consider exercises where these staff members revise lesson plans and practice coaching conversations.
Leaders must communicate that using technology is expected and just any kind of use is not acceptable. Conversations about criteria for using technology should be embedded wherever instruction is being discussed. Remember that technology use can no longer be optional or else we are preparing our students for 1986, rather than the future!