Two Essential Questions for Technology Integration

3 02 2010

How is technology affecting the learning process?

The fast pace that technology is changing and evolving is greatly impacting teachers and students in classrooms today.  Students are already responding to the change; as Kop and Hill state, students of today are ‘millennial learners’ who are not satisfied with the traditional method of instruction (2008).  In response to this, teachers can either embrace this technology and use it, or they can shun it and stick with the methods that they are most familiar.  Some educators push back to the use of technology in their classrooms due to the simple fact that they fear that a student will know more than they do (Kop and Hill, 2008).  Rather than be afraid of technology, teachers should welcome it with open arms, along with the information they might gain from their students.  In my own classroom, I was using Google Earth to show some students where Versailles is located in France since we were studying the French Revolution.  I did not know how to make it so that Google Earth would show the street view so we could see the front of the building and one of my students showed me how to manipulate the map to get different results.  I learned from him and he felt very good about teaching me something that he is very good at.  Not only does technology engage students, it gives them the confidence in themselves and what they know.

Students are today are asking for more as Deubal states in her article, students are becoming not only multi-taskers , but also wanting to connect more with the material they are learning (2010).  Students of this current time are causing educational theorists to rethink past theories and come up with new ideas that apply to this generation.  The theory of connectivism, which is defined by Siemens as “an integration of principles explored by chaos, network and complexity and self organization theories,” urges educators to give their students a more autonomous role in their own education (2006).  Some of the principles that are included in this theory are that learning and knowledge are based on a diversity of opinions and learning takes place when students connect ‘”nodes” or information sources (Siemens, 2004).  He also asserts that decision-making is a life-long process that is constantly evolving even from day to day (2004).

There is definite push back to this idea of allowing more technology in the classroom because it challenges the conventional methods we all grew up with.  To make learning more meaningful, we need to encourage them to use skills like texting or social networking to connect to classroom material.  This major paradigm-shift may take time, but I am unsure of how long these students can be left without this kind of education.

What principles should guide your approach for integrating technology into instruction?

There are many wonderful and not-so-wonderful resources out there on the internet for students and teachers to take advantage of in their classrooms.  It is useful to develop an analytical model when including any of these tools in a classroom.  As Deubal states, “Technology should not be implemented just for the sake of adopting technology.  It must serve a role in learning”(2010).  Plopping a student down in front of a computer because it will fill time that day or using a shiny-new piece of technology in a class that might hinder learning because you might not be trained on it, should not be what technology in the classroom likes like.

Since the advent of the expansion of the internet into schools nationwide, many sites have been put up for social studies teachers to take advantage of.  The internet has allowed wide access to many primary source documents that students would not have been able to use fifteen years ago.  This allows for rich instruction, but again there can also be pitfalls to those digital histories out there.  Not only should teachers be aware of using technology for technology sake, but they should also be aware of the validity of their sources.  Bull, Bull and Dawson have put out four criteria that can be used when looking at digital histories that are created by various organizations which are “1) are they able to transform teaching; 2) are they able to withstand peer review; 3) do they have an internal champion committed to scholarship and K-12 education; and 4) are the resources they provide related to the K-12 curriculum?” (1999)  All four of these questions deal with the basic principles of integrating technology; do they help a lesson, are they valid,  is the source concerned with helping students become more connected to the subject matter and  the overall curriculum?  This not only applies to social studies websites, but it can apply to many other subjects when teachers are contemplating whether to use a resource or not.

Before this blog post, I had never really considered these principles integration in depth.  I strive in my classroom to make sure the digital sources are valid but the question of connecting to curriculum and subject matter is something I need to strive towards doing better in my classroom.  Usually the lesson connects on the surface level of what I want them to learn, but I need to push myself to come up with new ways for them to analyze that information.  I want my students to have these skills for future use and school is a safe place for them to try new techniques; in the process, they might even teach me a thing or two.

Bull, G., Bull, G. & Dawson, K. (1999). “The Universal Solvent.”
Learning and Leading with Technology. 27, 2: 36-38.

Deubel, P. (2010).  Technology integration: Essential questions. Retrieved February 2, 2010, from Computing Technology for Math Excellence Web site:

Kop, R., & Hill, A. (2008). Connectivism: Learning Theory of the Future or Vestige of the Past?. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9(3), 1-13. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Lee, J. (2002). Digital History in the History/Social Studies Classroom. History Teacher, 35(4), 503-517. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved February 2, 2010, from

Siemens, G. (2006).  Knowing Knowledge.  Retrieved February 2, 2010, from




5 responses

6 02 2010
Jackie Gerstein

You have a great goal of “connecting to curriculum and subject matter is something I need to strive towards doing better in my classroom.” I appreciate your reference list!

6 02 2010
Jodie Hale

I think the reason so many are pushing against using technology in the classroom is because they do not know how to. They are scared of what they don’t know. Teachers need training to understand how technology can really improve their teaching and make it more effective.

7 02 2010

With connectivism, the ability to discern the connections that should be created within the network, to access the worthiness of information to be included in the network, and to renegotiate the structure of the network due to the ever changing nature of the information are essential. Student learning takes place through the network he has built thus creating a more autonomous learner.

The role of the teacher also changes. The teacher is more of a facilitator. The instructor assists in mentoring the student and serves as a model demonstrating the connectivist philosophy.

I believe, with technology, this is the classroom of the future where the student is a more independent learner and the teacher is more of a facilitator.

8 02 2010

I don’t think I was aware of “connectivism” before I read your blog. I read some more about it because I wondered how or if it was related to “constructivism.” I found the best information at this web site:
I learned that the constructivist learning theory, along with the cognitive and behaviorist learning theory, were all prior to the influx of technology. All three of these learning theories are built on the epistemological traditions that address how a person learns. All three also purport that knowledge is an attainable objective through either reasoning or experiences.

Constructivism considers how learners create knowledge through their experiences. Learners are active in their attempts to create meaning, and often choose what to learn and pursue it on their own. The learning is often real-life learning, and these authentic tasks prepare learners for future careers and for life-long learning pursuits.

While constructivism is a good learning theory, the author of this article (Siemens, 2004) believes there is still something missing. There is learning that occurs outside of people (learning stored and manipulated by technology), and learning that happens within organizations. Bringing technology into this equation causes the need for a new learning theory–connectivism. The author defines connectivism as the integration of principles explored by chaos (the science that recognizes the connection of everything to everything), network, and complexity and self-organization theories. “Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements–not entirely under the control of the individual. Learning (defined as actionable knowledge) can reside outside of ourselves (within an organization or a database), is focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing.”

The principles of connectivism are:
-Learning and knowledge rests in a diversity of opinions.
-Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
-Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
-Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known.
-Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
-Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
-Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
Decision-making is itself a learning process.

This was very interesting! I learned a lot from your blog and appreciate your bringing this to our attention.

Siemens, G. (2004). “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.” Retrieved February 8, 2010 from:

9 02 2010
Bradley Drewyor

I enjoyed your post about the priciples guiding technology integration. The four points you list are very valid. In the end, of course, integrating technology into teaching is a very similar process to integrating new content or a new schedule or anything else. It comes down to understanding what it is we are trying to accomplish, finding the right tool or strategy, and working with the correct people to implement everything. Great posts!

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