Frameworks for Sustaining Technology Integration


Technology’s role in, and importance to, education is only going to grow in importance as the calendar clicks towards 2025. Hsu and Sharma (2010) assert that “in recent years, emerging technologies have shown the capability of enhancing teaching and learning of different subject matters” and that preservice teachers often seek “additional modeling from mentor teachers and methods faculties” on how to successfully integrate technology into the classroom (p.41). In addition The Center for Implementing Technology in Education (CITEd) comments that “effective technology integration requires teachers to learn that technology within the context of their teaching so they can prepare, reflect and modify practices” and that to successfully “implement and sustain technology integration teachers need to be empowered to use resources from within, not just relying on outside expertise” (Sustaining Technology Implementation). The section will focus on how to design a framework which best facilitates successful long term technology integration in educational settings.

When studying technology integration Rogers (2010) developed the adaption and diffusion theory which focuses on "characteristics of innovations and potential users" (Hsu and Sharma). Hsu and Sharam describe this theory as being "useful during early stages of technology integration change process for addressing potential users' characteristics and innovations' attributes." In his theory Rogers describes three essential ideas with the first stating that adapting innovation is a process and not a single act. The five stages that adopters need to progress through before deciding whether or not to continue using a new innovation are listed in Table 2. The second of Rogers ideas is the idea of "adopter categories" which focuses on "how certain elements within the population...will readily adopt an innovation, while others, such as late majority and laggards, will show resistance to the process." Rogers' third idea focuses around the innovation's attributes, and the opinions people form about the innovation, with some examples being can the innovation "provide a better way to do their jobs,...whether it is compatible with their established values and beliefs, whether it is difficult to learn, whether it can be tried out before using it, and the perceived benefits it can bring" (Hsu and Sharma, p. 42 - 43).


Table 2. Five Phases in Adoption and Diffusion Theory (Rogers, 1995)
Phase
Name
Actual Action
1
Knowledge
Potential adopters gain a basic understanding of what the innovation is and how it works.
2
Persuasion
Potential adopters take a positive or negative attitude toward the innovation.
3
Decision
Potential adopters take actions to accept the innovation or reject it.
4
Implementation
Potential adopters actually use the innovation.
5
Confirmation
Potential adopters examine how the innovation has been used and make further decisions to use the innovation or reject it based on the perceived benefits.

In contrast to Rogers focus on the innovation and who is adopting it Hall and Ford focused their attention "to the adopters needs." They "identified six levels of concern that potential adopters felt," listed in Table 3, and "eight levels of innovation use," listed in table 4. What this model offers is "a continuum of concerns about, and use of, technology in the overall progression toward integration and acceptance" while also providing a framework "how adopters actually use technology and for anticipating the concerns that might arise at different stages in the change process" (Hsu and Sharma, 2010, p. 43-44).


Table 3. Concerns of Potential Adopters (Hall and Ford, 1987)
Concern
Actual Action
Awareness
Potential adopters may know that the innovation exists but have little interest or involvement in it.
Informational
Adopters decide to gain more information about the innovation.
Personal
Adopters consider the demands of the innovation, their ability to use it, and their role in using it.
Management
Adopters are concerned about the administrative and logistical challenges of the innovation.
Consequence
Adopters ask about how the adoption of the innovation influences their students or their jobs.
Collaboration
Adopters consider how to collaborate with others in using the innovation.
Refocusing
Adopters begin to think about replacing or improving the use of the innovation.

Table 4. Levels of Use of the Innovation (Hall and Hord, 1987)
Level
Actual Action
Non-use
Adopters have little or no involvement in using the innovation.
Orientation
Adopters attempt to gain information of the innovation from those who actually use it.
Preparation
Adopters are ready to use the innovation first time.
Mechanical
Adopters focus on rote use of the innovation without in-depth reflection.
Routine
Adopters use the innovation regularly but lack further consideration of improvement.
Refinement
Adopters begin to consider short and long-term benefits in using the innovation.
Integration
Adopters begin to collaborate with other colleagues’ efforts to improve the outcomes of the innovation.
Renewal
Adopters evaluate the innovation’s effectiveness and consider modifications or replacement of the innovation.
Using the ideas of Rogers, Hall and Ford teachers Pi-Sui Hsu and Priya Sharma designed a framework for technology integration in educational settings. Their framework "consists of three major components that interact with each other: people, process activities, and systems" and gives six overall guidelines when designing a framework for sustaining technology integration."

Component One: People


The people component consists of a "key leadership team, a learning community, and collaboration between subject teaching and technology training specialists."

"Guideline 1: Identify key persons who view technology integration as a desirable way to empower learning and teaching and recruit these key persons to form a leadership team."


Hsu and Sharma (2010) describe how it is impossible for one person to drive technology changes alone, no matter whether they are a teach, principal, or sit on the school board. Instead a leadership team should be made which consists "of members who posses expertise in subject matter and share different experiences in technology" because a "division of roles and responsibilities, based on individual abilities and interests, was a strong support for the technology integration process." An example of this was at Oak Grove High School in San Jose, California, when three directors who made "schoolwide decisions together and operated around a school-within-a-school concept that made the large school more manageable." Each director shared administrative responsibilities, conversed regularly with the others, and was in charge with a different curriculum path at the school. This allowed the directors plenty of time to interact with classroom teachers, observe classes, and interact with students all of which enabled them to better "identify the support and resources required by teachers and also better understand their students' needs" (p.47).

"Guideline 2: Identify people who engage in the technology integration change process and form a learning community."


Learning communities are described by Hsu and Sharma (2010) as being a "powerful way to facilitate and sustain technology integration, particularly during the early stages of the change process." In order to successfully facilitate the integration of technology the learning communities should try to adhere to following two characteristics; conducting research within the context of technology integration to examine practice critically because research findings can help refine practice...[and] learning and growing by collaborating on a number of activities." By conducting research and critically evaluating practice educators can make informed, research driven changes to each others attempts to integrate technology which should lead to more effective and successful teaching using technology. In order to grow and collaborate educators can form learning communities that study or read books together or design action research teams who "identify a compelling question of practice and conduct research to discover information that will shed new light on a question and lead to new actions" (p.48-49). In addition, Chris Dede found that "without substantial and extended professional development in the innovative models of teaching and learning that instructional technology makes affordable and sustainable, many educators will not use these devices to their full potential" (Dede, 1998, p. 2). Overall these learning communities should be reflective, lead the educators involved to learn practices and instructional techniques which will lead to successful technology integration.

"Guideline 3: Identify a variety of methods to establish collaboration between faculty or teachers and technology coordinators or staff."


One of the main reasons why technology integration fails is due to the fact that there is not a technology coordinator responsible for training, helping, and supporting teachers in the use of technology. Chris Dede (1998) describes that to "achieve large-scale shifts in standard educational practices, many more teachers must alter their pedagogical approaches" (p. 6) and one of the easiest ways to facilitate this process is to have a technology coordinator. The technology coordinators responsibilities could include helping to train students in the use of technology, so more class time could be devoted to curriculum, while also training teachers in the use of educational technologies so they could focus more time on lesson planing. An example of this occurred in a Colorado school district where the technology coordinator held regular meetings with staff members, principals, the school technology committee, and individual teachers, to help with whatever problems there were having. Hsu and Sharma (2010) describe that as a result of this "collaboration, teachers, staff and students in this school district all felt and shared responsibility for technology integration and sustenance (p. 49 - 50). It also important to include students' families in the process of technology integration by using a model like distributed learning which can involve "orchestrating educational activities among classrooms, workplaces, homes, and community settings" and can "build partnerships for learning between teachers and families" (Dede, 1998, p.4). This relationship can further help the successful integration of technology by gaining support from parents.

Component Two: Process Activities


The process activities component "provide mechanisms for people to interact with a hierarchy of educational systems" through activities "including pilot-testing of
technology tools, the adoption of pedagogy and methodology, and research-based practice, which serve as a feedback loop to ensure the improvement and sustenance of technology integration" (Hsu and Sharma, 2010, p. 50).

"Guideline 4: Pilot-test technology integration to understand critical issues and combat resistance in the technology integration process."


Pilot-testing technology has many benefits with one of the most important being the opportunity "modify the technology integration project to ensure that the implementation plan considers the necessary pedagogical methods, technical aspects, and logistical aspects for sustenance" while also allowing for feedback from teachers, students, and researchers. By doing a pilot test students can explain what they liked and did not like about the technology, how the technology enabled or impeded their learning, while teachers can measure effectiveness and consult research to improve the instructional design supporting the technology, all before the technology is adopted by a large body. In addition, pilot testing "provides opportunities to examine possible resistance to technology integration" and what barriers key peoples resistance to the technology's integration might present (Hsu and Sharma, 2010, p 49 - 50). A major hurdle to successfully integrating technology is identifying where resistance is and determining ways to overcome it, something that pilot testings facilitates.

"Guideline 5: Build explicit relationships between research and practice."


Hsu and Sharma (2010) assert that "collaboration between school teachers and university faculty appears to facilitate and sustain technology integration because "linking research with practice is essential to improving students' performance in classrooms, to encouraging stakeholders to commit to technology integration, and to sustain the technology integration process itself." In order to help this occur one suggestion is to have regular training sessions with teachers about how to integrate technology into the classroom and to provide new teachers with mentor who could oversee and help them with technology integration. Critical to the success of this guideline is that the training is constant and does not fizzle out because "the constant cycle of research feeding back into...[classrooms] made technology integration look different" and much more successful. An example of this loop working to fix a problem was when pre-service teachers had to create a web-based portfolio which required them to update and change their teaching philosophy three times in a semester. A research study on the web based portfolio project "indicated that one semester did not allow" enough time to change their philosophies three times so they length of the project was extended. When research based practice is followed it limits pedagogical mistakes, improves teaching methods using technology, and more leads to a successful integration of technology in education (p. 51-52).

Component Three: System Components


"Guideline 6: Identify different levels within educational systems that influence the technology integration change process and interact with people involved in the change process."


By identifying the "different levels of educational systems make it possible to adopt approaches that strengthen synergy among these different levels and to tackle problems that may arise from these systems before and during the technology integration change process." Identifying the different levels within the educational system that need to be included in the discussion about how to successfully integrate technology into the curriculum will vary depending on where you teach. For example, teaching in an international school one may only need to convince the director of the school to support the integration of technology and can then work with that person to design a plan for successful technology integration. When teaching in the States Hsu and Sharma describe that at the local school community level it is "essential to involve local school districts' teachers and students" because they found that during the first few years of technology integration two of the biggest barriers to successful integration were a "lack of technology resources in schools and lack of support from mentor teachers. Hsu and Sharma also found that by simply working with districts and teachers about how to obtain and share resources and discuss technology integration both problems were overcome.
The first video describes the three phases of technology integration in a classroom and the second video shows an example of how a school has successfully integrated technology in their curriculum.

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The video below is the first in a series titled Technology Integration Workshop. The series contains many nine lessons designed to help teachers integrate technology into the classroom. To access the other eight lessons press on the video and follow the links on the right hand side of the screen.






Besides the framework described by Hsu and Sharma another critical aspect to sustaining the vision of technology integration in education is ensuring that pre-service teachers are taught how to correctly integrate technology into their classrooms. Cohen et al (2007) describe that "through the teacher preparation program teacher candidates learn about practice habits of mind that may be incompatible with the norms and values reflected in the K-12 context...[and] the bottom line is that even in the best of circumstances, how teachers teach and how they use technology to assist learning and instruction may have little to do with what happened in their teacher education program" (p. 78). Many graduates of teaching credential programs do not feel that they had adequate instruction in how to integrate technology and many also feel that their ability to use technology in their field experience was inadequate. Cohen et. al. describe further that overall technology-specific course work does not seem to improve graduates' basic technology proficiency and their eventual use of technology in teaching" (p.80).

In order to better prepare teachers to successfully integrate technology into their classrooms when they graduate Cohen et. al. (2007)decribe a conceptual model that schools should follow and a comprehensive approach. Cohen et. al. describe that at schools were teachers felt like they were instructed about how to successfully integrate technology into the classroom there was a "conceptual model driving the process, a model that fit the instruction and that provided a frame of reference for all involved." While conceptual models will be different "and rather global with respect to what focused the effort" all of them did provide "conceptual glue to frame the problem and sustain the work." An example of a conceptual model from Bank Street College is that "technology is based on the developmental interaction approach...[and] in teacher education classes faculty place emphasis on modeling good practice, encouraging discourse, expanding access to primary sources, and giving voice to those who otherwise might not be heard." The comprehensive approach centers around all faculty in credential programs integrating technology into their classrooms when training teachers. Cohen et. al. describe how "prospective teachers need a variety of models of the effective integration of technology into the teaching and learning process" and that teachers need to see technology in action not simply study how to do it" (p. 81-82, 84). As Cohen et. al. show, critical to the successful and continued integration of technology in education is for credential programs to develop a plan about how to teach technology and then have teachers model educational technology uses to pre-service teachers.

Educational Technology Services (2011) created a framework in response to the fact that "educational research technology integration in schools has been criticized for lacking an underlying theoretical framework." According to Educational Technology Services the TPCK framework they created "recognizes the complexity and interplay among three main components of learning environments: content, pedagogy, and technology" and is designed to "help instructors understand and negotiate the relationships between these three components of knowledge" (Technology Integration). The framework is useful because it combines the ideas of Hsu, Sharma, and Cohen et. al. by demonstrating how technology, pedagogy and content can be successfully synthesized.

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