By Michael Hilkemeijer
Integrating ICT in education is an instructional choice by you the teacher and it involves collaboration and deliberate planning in addition to always having you as the teacher to participate. The integration of ICT in education is when you as the classroom teachers use ICT to introduce, reinforce, extend, enrich, assess, and remediate student mastery of curricular targets.
Effective ICT integration in education cannot be achieved without you and it certainly won’t occur if you just send your students to the computer lab to learn ICT skills while you do something else.
The significance of how to integrate ICT in teaching and learning successfully was driven home for myself personally one day when I read information about past ICT tools in teaching and learning.
If you can remember those days back in school when television was around. Many of my old school teachers used it a lot for learning experiences. What has happened since then is that we have all become too familiar with TV as a result of it being an ever-present part of our lives. It no longer exists as a learning medium.
Today, as ICT keeps permeating out lives, it too is in danger of losing its power as a learning medium. You cannot simply expose children to it as learning will not sufficiently occur.
You will learn in the following paragraphs the best practices on how to integrate ICT in teaching and learning today and I encourage you to apply these principles as you do so. Such strategies for integrating ICT into classroom learning can found in our advanced course in more detail and can be applied with support from the theories learned in the course.
Here is how to integrate ICT in the classroom.
Step 1. Develop an appreciation of where the children are
This is all to do with the methods of observation and assessment that you choose to use. The integration of ICT is about making ICT transparent in meaningful and purpose driven contexts. Its components are practical and so observation is ideal as the main form of assessment. However, you need to use different strategies for each component of ICT capability.
An idea would be to conduct a pre-lesson with ICT where you list all the ICT techniques that you expect your students to already know. Monitor these throughout the lesson and record what you observe. Then plan your lesson accordingly.
Step 2. Plan and seek to develop all components of ICT capability
ICT capability is constituted of 5 components and just the one aspect that many teachers are familiar with that is just teaching ICT skills. You need to develop all components in meaningful, subject-related activities.
Step 3. Embed ICT in the meaningful and purpose-driven context
I know that I have mentioned this before, however, this is the whole crux of it. Understanding how to integrate ICT in teaching and learning means that you are on-board with embedding it throughout your curriculum. It is an instructional choice that includes collaboration and deliberate planning.
So you need to make sound instructional decisions by creating ICT activities in your curriculum. To take this example further, I will use the Australian Curriculum to broaden your understanding. It recognises ICT capability as a 21st century skill or what is known as a general capability as something that can be integrated in key learning areas. As such teachers are encouraged to use a range of ICT tools, strategies and resources to support the teaching and learning of ICT capability.
This brings me to the next step.
Step 4. Select the appropriate ICT tools
There are so many out there and as teachers both you and I know that we are under pressure from the society and our government to try new things. However, you can have the latest and greatest tech and yet be unsuccessful in integrating it.
So what is the solution?
I believe firstly that it is about imagining the potential of the available technology for learning with the context that it will be taught. This is something that we can all do.
Secondly, not all ICT tools and resources that are out there develops ICT capability and as ICT capability is best developed in meaningful contexts, it is actually integrating ICT in education. So you need to select the appropriate ICT tools.
Most of these you already know and have in your learning environment. They involve the capability to allow students to develop higher order thinking skills (through a high volume of decision-making on behalf of the students), challenges them intellectually and just so happen to be content-free or generic.
In many of our advanced online pd courses for teachers we discuss in detail what they are and the best strategies for each.
Moving on… this works well for you as a teacher as time is never on your side and so why go out looking for next big technological development to come around and solve your ICT integration problems?
Step 5. Practice formative assessment strategies throughout the year
Already I mentioned how valuable this is as observation is your best choice for assessment. You need to use different strategies for each component.
Finally, if you want to effectively integrate ICT in education it is important that you have a good understanding of the ICT concepts and their relation to other areas of the curriculum. There are close relationships between ICT capability and knowledge, skills and understanding in other subjects and it is not helpful to see their development in isolation.
If you follow these steps then you are on the road to leading your students to 21st century skills that they can continue to build on in their lives past school. There are many ideas out there as to how to integrate ICT in teaching and learning, but sticking to these fundamentals is vital for your success as a teacher in a technology-rich. And remember that you set a good example to your colleagues in relation to integrating ICT in education even if you have just one ICT tool at your disposal.
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