An incomplete thought on tech intergration…

I am getting worried that tech integrators are starting to push projects based on a certain technology, or just offering up tool boxes of “top ten” tools to teachers and expecting them to build a lesson with them. We should be focused on getting teachers to create higher order authentic units in which it is necessary to use technological tools to achieve the goals and objectives of the unit. Unit comes first, selection of tools come second. I think the ed tech world is starting to push the tools, and forgetting to push the unit’s concepts, goals and objectives.

Architects don’t select a carpenter’s tool and then decide to build a house using only that tool. You don’t give a mechanic a tool box and tell them to build a car. Design comes first, tool selection comes second. We shouldn’t be creating units to highlight technology in our classroom. We should be creating units that highlight authentic use of critical thinking skills first, tech integration second. Do the first, and the second should come naturally.

I don’t use technology in my class because it is cool. I don’t create projects around a certain type of 2.0 tool. I don’t look at my tool box before I start designing a lesson. I don’t use it to motivate or teach the kids. I don’t use it to make my units more exciting or engaging. The design of my units make the use of technology necessary. The units are not technology in search of content, technology in search of a project, or technology in search of a reason to be used. Every unit should have a reason why technology should have to be used to meet the goals and objectives of the lesson, otherwise our kids’ learning is dictated by the tools we give them. We need to let them build, not be built.


  1. Paul, you are thinking correctly about this issue, however you have to be familiar with the capabilities of your tools before you are able to create units that utilize them.

    But you are right, tech people often put the tech first without thinking about if the tech is the right tool for the job, only thinking about how cool it is.

    Ever read Clifford Stoll’s books, High Tech Heretic or Silicon Snake Oil? His books were written a decade or so ago, and some of his concerns have been alleviated with advances in the technology (such as the inability to collaborate & work in teams), but some of his ideas line up with the concerns you’ve mentioned here. We rushed to integrate technology into the classroom without a real plan; only a faint notion that modern classrooms ought to have technology in them.

  2. @ Paul
    Great point. I’m saddened to admit that a teacher I know was recently bragging how she is able to generate word searches for her students on line and how it helped her meet her tech goal. Something is wrong with her thinking. When is doing a word search ever a valuable learning experience for high school students? And just because she found the generator online it made it easier? She missed the point and there are probably a good number who do. The technology should be used if it assists the learning and deepens the experience. If it doesn’t then it is like using a Smart board just to project images on or buying a set of classroom clickers to enshrine the multiple choice question.

  3. Paul,

    I couldn’t agree more. I think sometimes tech integration specialists/coaches/mentors work a bit too hard justifying their positions. If they’re not finding some new Web 2.0 gadgets, then they must not be doing their jobs. Focusing on content and skills is a non-negotiable that is sometimes easy to forget.

    Your phrase – “The units are not technology in search of content . . .” is a perfect reminder for me to keep my eyes on the prize of learning and not gadgets.



  4. There are a lot of good comments made on this topic. I agree that if technology interferes with teaching your unit it should be avoided. However if possible we need to keep technology alive in our classrooms, so if you can use it and still teach what needs to be taught I say more power to you.

  5. One should use technology, not let technology use you. All you have to do is watch a kid spend 3 hours doing a cover page for a research paper he spent 1 hour writing.

  6. My problem with technology is that it is mostly teacher-controlled and teacher driven. To be, a blog is not another platform for a teacher to broadcast assignments, or, to even advertise student work. It is an idea-sharing platform.

    As a Spanish teacher, my main objective is to teach students to communicate. If there is a tech tool I can use, that’s great. But, I don’t throw my communicative goals under the bus for the sake of technology. Frankly, my students learn more when they use the language with each other, and with me.

    I think that the tech craze is causing a lot of folks in education to lose their minds. A lot of us have lost our way.

  7. When I introduce a new tool to teachers, I like to give an overview of the tool without going into the nuts and bolts. Then I love to show many examples of how it is used. This gets their mind whirling on how they can use it. After that I like them to get with someone to brainstorm ways they can use it and then I have them share it with the group. If I’m lucky enough to be in a computer lab, we go over the actual steps on how to use it. That has been pretty successful for me.

  8. We do not have tech integrators as such, but as I teach technology, I am one who is guilty of teaching tools for much of the time. However, upon letting students ‘play’ with the tools, I am often amazed at how they work those tools to suit their classroom purposes. They often push them to the boundaries, reaping learning outcomes that could not have been envisaged by me, as a teacher.

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