Integrating Technology into Content
Factors that Influence Effective Use of Technology
The Southeast and Islands Regional Technology in Education Consortium
(SEIR*TEC) has studied technical assistance and professional development to
resource poor schools across the Southeastern United States. Over a
three-year period of study the consortium has been involved with many intensive
site schools. The following observations and lessons have been reported by
There are nine lessons to be learned concerning factors that influence the
effective use of technology in teaching and learning.
Leadership is the key ingredient
- The leadership is the single most important factor affecting the
successful integration of technology.
- A vision of what is possible through the use of technology is
essential at the school level.
- Leading by example is another requirement. Principals in
successful schools are technology fluent and they participate actively
in professional development opportunities in technology
- Support of the faculty is another essential element. Principals
in effective schools highlight the efforts of teachers who attempt to
use technology and attend and plan professional development with their
- Effective leaders focus on reform initiatives and they ensure that the
faculty has the resources, skills and time to accomplish the initiative.
Real reform takes time and focus is essential.
"Initiative-of-the-month" produces confusion, and eventually
apathy on the part of the staff.
- Shared leadership between the leader and that staff where group
consensus is reached is another characteristic of effective integration
sites. Shared input and decisions are critical for success.
You must know where you are going--a vision and goals statement is
- A comprehensive plan is necessary but it cannot be the work of one
individual. The creation of the "technology plan" needs
to be accomplished with input from the total staff
- Evaluative criteria must be a part of the plan. How do you know
when you reach your goal if you don't evaluate along the way?
- Implementation takes time. Plans usually are short-term and do
not contain detail for later stages. Most plans never are
Technology integration is a slow process
- The process is slow and requires substantial levels of support and
encouragement. Long term support both with hardware and
professional development is a key element if the integration is to be
- Follow-up and support too frequently are missing which dooms the
effort before it even begins
Computers by number are not the answer.
- Hardware access is not the issue. Computer access has been
available to some degree for the last 20 years.
- Focus on teaching and learning NOT skill development. Teachers
have a difficult time applying technology skills in the classroom unless
there is a direct linkage with the curriculum, teaching strategies, or
improvements in achievement
- The train-the-trainer model has NOT proven successful with
technology. One shot training workshops will not create technology
enriched teaching. Problems include the fact that the one shot
training is usually too complex, has no follow-up, and often the
trainers did not have enough time to become proficient.
- Having the computer is not enough. Teachers must have time
resources, opportunity, and support. Training must be followed
with practice opportunities, support opportunities, and plenty of
positive reinforcement if teachers are to be fostered to become
technology integration practitioners.
Effective technology integration requires change in teaching strategy
- Effective teaching with technology requires a change in teaching
strategy. Teachers must be more student focused. Learning
becomes problem solving and critical thinking and frequently project
- Matching effective teaching and pedagogically sound technologies lead
to improved learning. Convincing teachers that technology means
change is the block. Teachers must be convinced that a new
teaching strategy will result in improved learning.
Access to the experts is necessary
- On-site and on-demand technical assistance for both the technology and
the strategies of teaching with it are key elements to
- If the support is lacking the change process becomes lost and the
final desired product, technology integrated into the classroom is not
Barriers exist to technology that are not all tied to hardware acquisition.
One size does NOT fit all students.
- Finding software that is appropriate for student use, interesting, and
challenging remains a problem.
- Language and reading ability dramatically impact on the use of
software. If students don't speak the language or read poorly, the
software becomes unusable for them. Making the match of age
appropriate software to the reading and language ability of the students
is another element that affects the effective integration of technology
into the curriculum.
Infrastructure issues remain barriers to technology infusion
- Electrical and networking issues must be met if technology is to reach
optimum use. Lack of outlets, not enough available power to a
classroom, lack of connections to the Internet are all issues that influence
the success with technology.
- Security is another issue. Protecting the heavy dollar
investment while providing access to those who need to use it is a
balancing issue that many schools deal with on a daily basis. Easy
access is essential. Too frequently the cost pushes divisions to
lock up and secure the technology so that it is not easily used.
The more barriers placed between the technology and the user the less
impact the technology will have on the learner.
Evaluation is imperative
- Some method of objective evaluation must be part of any program.
How will you show the community that the dollars invested in technology
had resulted in improved learning in the classrooms?
- Technology is expensive. Objective data showing the use in
classrooms not only validates the expenditures, but also serves to spur
the reluctant to begin use in their classrooms. Proof that
technology aids learning could potentially accelerate the rate of
progress. "I think we improved" is not sufficient
justification. Objective data collected in classes rich in
integrated technology with improved achievement scores will cause others
to take notice and begin the process in their schools and classrooms.
Source: Byrom, Elizabeth and Bingham,
Margaret. Factors Influencing the Effective Use of Technology for
Teaching and Learning: Lessons Learned from the SEIR*TEC Intensive Site
Schools. SERVE: Greensboro, 1999.