Sunday, November 1, 2009

Integrating technology

I learned my computer skills for work in 1989. Doing classroom newsletters, I added to my skill set in order to teach it to my students. I found, through my work at uOttawa and the Faculty of Education in 2005, that many professors have not successfully integrated technology into their curriculum. Not to say they do not use it, but they have not bridged the gap from dispensing URLs like holy water, to fully understanding how we balance computers, digital tools, and curriculum with classroom management and the practical aspects of the process.

Above is a photo of the computer equipment one of my special needs students was given to use at home or school. The other students were not allowed to use it (Board/Ministry policy) and they locked it down. He would take the computer to and from school.

This is the technology I learned to use at work. We could scan a page of difficult reading for a student, and the application would read it aloud for them. An e-dictionary would define the word for them.

Instructional Repertoire
Curriculum is much more than learning activities, it is a balance and a dance of much more than this. Curriculum is a balance of Instructional Repertoire that helps the educator manage students, curriculum, the classroom environment, human behaviour and integrate what they knew about the brain, pedagogy, psychology, sociology, and facilitate the learning process.

Open Concept Classrooms
Unfortunately, the powers-that-be did not understand how the influx of technology impacted the entire classroom. Like the 70's invention of Open Concept classrooms, where they built schools without classroom walls but did not teach the teachers how to change their pedagogical skills, curriculum and practices to accommodate this change. many classrooms had to have walls built.

Whole Language
Or the invention of Whole Language, an holistic approach that was supposed to begin with the theme, and then break down the components of language to punctuation, phonics, syntax, grammar, spelling. Some did not stay for the whole workshop and eschewed these notions. A large group of children were harmed in this process. Those most at risk for failing to master the finer points of putting language together.

In the early 2000s, with funding for ISA equipment these intensive needs students were given locked down computers that did not integrate well into a classroom where teachers were fighting for classroom control. The middle-aged teachers did not understand, and did not have experience managing a classroom in which students were free to move about, to seek help from others, while s/he worked on lessons with other students. Many chose not to use the technology, as it took time away from actually interacting with the students.

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