When TIPS first humbly joined the ranks of the online
Fayette County Schools publications, it was an acronym: Technology
Integration Promotes Success. Since I am not a great fan of
acronyms, any reference to this one promptly disappeared
("Tips" had plenty of meaning anyway). But since it's really a quick description of why the educational arm of
the Fayette County Office of Technology exists, let's take it apart
and see if it makes sense.
This word is much abused, and
little understood. The heavy computer users out there will try to
convince you that computer and network connectivity is technology.
Of course, the venerable chalkboard is a technology. So is a simple
radio (ask HAM fan and TRT Dick Forston). An instructional designer will tell you that any method
of developing, delivering, and revising instruction in a systematic
fashion can be called a technology, even if there's nothing more to
the method than a plan on a piece of paper! By these examples we might
infer that a technology is simply a tool.
But that sells some technologies short. Some
technologies, such as the "Xerox" duplicator machine, simply
improve efficiency and save time. But others, like the telephone,
actually change the way we do things, and by extension, who we are.
Because of the telephone, it is possible for a teacher to easily
establish a personal relationship with a parent or guardian, without
depending on that person coming to school. Likewise, on-line
information databases make "knowledge of access" a much more
important factor in learning than rote memorization. If the Preamble
to the U.S. Constitution is available in microseconds by a
mouse-click, it is not useful to define "knowing the U.S.
Constitution" as memorizing the preamble!
...Integration... The implication of this word is
that technology is not a separate layer, but is actually a part of
everyday life. This is, of course, the toughest part of
educational technology. Teachers most often teach as they were taught,
which means it's more likely that "chalk and talk" will be
the approach. But finding a chalk board in a board room, corporate training center, office
suite, or other workplace is a rarity,
whereas electronic display is nearly as common as the pen. Take a
look at the kitchen of any fast food restaurant for an example.
Since "integration" implies change, it is
simply not possible to drop new technologies on top of old practices.
Replacing a "Seek and Find" lesson with an open Internet
research is not "integration." Nor is replacing the
poorly-prepared aural report with the poorly-prepared PowerPoint. In
order to incorporate new tools and capabilities, it is necessary to
change the way you do things. This requires access, motivation, and
...Promotes... The idea that the inclusion of new
technologies might actually promote change and
improvement has plenty of detractors. However, the data is in, and it
is simply not possible to refute it: an integration of good
instructional practice and new technologies gets results. Students
learn more, achieve more, and are better able to sustain these changes
beyond the classroom. It is, of course, impossible
to use the word "promotes' without the word
"integration," since technologies cannot promote anything by
...Success. Since technology has the power to
change who we are, it can change how we define success. It is no
longer possible to say that we have served our students if they leave
us with good writing skills, good knowledge of geography, good
understanding of the physical forces surrounding us - though those
skills are no less important now. Like it or not, the skills adults
need to achieve their goals and negotiate their world must now include
a mastery of basic technology. Hence the success we strive for must
use technology, integrate technology, and reflect the demands of
technology. But if we recognize that all of these goals support and
encourage each other, the successful use of educational technology
becomes win-win for our students, and ourselves.
--Jeffrey L. Jones,