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3 lessons for successful technology integration

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Our school, Colegio Inglés, is a private 1:1 school in Monterrey, Mexico. We have established a very complete system and infrastructure in 1:1 technology implementation. In middle school, every student owns an Apple MacBook, which gives them access to a world of learning opportunities.

In addition, our kids have access to bilingual education that aligns with accrediting bodies in the U.S., with common core standards and with Mexico’s Secretariat of Education’s requirements. There are different divisions that tap into different kinds of technology to leverage learning. For instance, elementary uses iPads in their instruction, and middle school has embraced a 1:1 program with MacBooks.

The school has done a remarkable job at the infrastructure level and at the academic level, in regards to technology. There has also been a push in balancing content, pedagogical models and technology. None of these should be dominant. It is rather a perfect equilibrium of these that constitutes effective learning.

This being said, we would like to share some of the main lessons we’ve learned during our technology integration process:

Technology acquisition is not the same as technology integration.

Schools and districts can spend millions of dollars in technology, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that significant learning will take place. Just like buying a plane doesn’t automatically make you a pilot, acquiring the latest technology doesn’t necessarily make you a better teacher, or educational leader for that matter. It is what you do with that technology to leverage the learning process that really counts. Among those necessary chores are providing timely support to both faculty and students, providing relevant training to teachers, and finally helping teachers design meaningful learning experiences for their students.

Technology integration is a gradual process.

It is naive to think that an entire school culture can be changed overnight or in one week or even one school year. It is natural for staff to resist to change. It is always easier and more comfortable to go along with the status quo. The problem is the status quo has been outdated for quite a while. Kids learn in a different way nowadays. In order to bring about this culture of innovation, creativity and technology integration, our school has been pushing hard in the direction of a framework that would guide and direct our efforts. Thus, the SAMR model of technology integration came along. We liked it as it is a simple, yet revolutionary model that allows the organization to transform, not only the obvious but also the sometimes imperceptible strategies and workflows that allow a task to be redefined to something that couldn’t have been achieved if it weren’t for technology. The very first years of adoption of this model focus on adoption, embracing and familiarity with it, rather than giant leaps (although they are gladly welcome as well).

Focus should be on progress.

One of the beauties of the SAMR model is that it provides a clear path and an unmistakable direction of what the future should look like. Teachers cannot complain about the lack of clarity in the different levels: substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition. However, not everybody moves at the same pace. Teachers have very different levels of proficiency in technology use. Thus, the focus is not set on all faculty moving at the same pace and all of them reaching the redefinition level. It is rather set on progress. If a particular teacher is able to move from the substitution level to the augmentation level, progress is seen and considered equally as important as major leaps across the continuum. As educational leaders, we need to be able to effectively rally our team; this effectiveness is evident if there is a sense of advancement in wise technology integration on behalf of teachers.

What are some lessons you’ve learned in your school or district? We would love to hear what you have learned along the way in your journey as a teacher, administrator or student. Please share them in the comments section below.

Isaac Pineda is the technology integration specialist at Colegio Inglés, a private 1:1 school in Monterrey, Mexico. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator and an advocate for technology in education. He also works as a speaker and consultant providing professional development for teachers and administrators at schools in Mexico and overseas. Visit his website. Read his blog. Follow him on Twitter @Kairosedtech.