Integrate technology into the curriculum: short and long term

Written in response to a class prompt…

What steps might you (or your organization) take, both long and short term, to help your school more effectively integrate technology into the curriculum? Create a short plan of action for how you may go about helping facilitate the technology integration process in your context.

I work as an Educational Technology Coordinator at the Orange County Department of Education, so I will approach this prompt from the perspective of how the county can help schools and districts to more effectively integrate technology into the curriculum.

Short Term

1. Refocus our staff development services (both in our labs and in our custom training program) from application specific topics to curriculum integration specific topics. (For instance, on the Mac platform, instead of specific iPhoto and iMovie classes, we might offer "iLife projects for high School English Language Arts".) Traditionally we offer week long summer institutes for teachers, and I think this is an ideal time to implement and pilot this change. I have already begun the needs assessment for this change, but this will also require that a good deal of time is devoted to instructional design. We may need to recruit a new cadre of trainers better qualified for this sort of integration training.

2. Infuse these new integration efforts not only with ways to integrate existing technologies into existing pedagogies, but also with ways to alter pedagogy to be more context-embedded, inquire-driven, and socially-negotiated in keeping with the need to help students develop 21st Century Skills such as digital literacy, inventive thinking, effective communication, and high productivity.

3. Provide consulting services to help schools and districts build their own capacity to do all of the above.

4. Provide additional consulting services to help schools and districts to implement hardware, software, and curricular technology standards (including a systematic process for revision, updates, and replacements) in order to support the above.

Long Term

1. Our department does a good job of staying on top of new and current trends in the integration of educational technologies into the curriculum. However, there is no formal system in place. While a formal system may not be required, we must remain committed to seeking out and exploring new applications of new technologies if we are to continue to inspire innovation in education. This will be costly in terms of relatively risky investments in conferences, correspondence with experts, equipment, and the time to needed to experiment.

2. In addition to exploring new technologies, we must also allocate resources to exploring new pedagogies and new school structures (in terms of physical layout, distance learning, and schedules – for classes, school days, and school years) made possible by the new technologies.

3. It is my firm belief that the current public education system must reinvent itself for the 21st Century (which includes of course contingencies for continued reinvention) or else be replaced by private efforts, perhaps at the cost of tremendous societal growth pains, such as the loss of many culturally unifying traditions and a greater digital divide between the have’s and have not’s. If we are to avoid this, hybrid organizations, such as the county office, which have the resources, vision, and flexibility to help schools and districts to adapt must lead the way. This is what keeps me up at night, and what gets me up in the morning. I want to be a part of this change.