Big Ideas and Small Steps
Are you stuck in the mud spinning your wheels? Do you feel like the harder you work, the farther behind you get? Do you "think" a lot about how you should be using technology, but make little progress impacting change? Are wanting until "it" comes out? Maybe you've made some progress, but seem to be stuck. These people are all experiencing the knowing-doing gap.
Knowing-Doing Gap
People know what to do, but they don't do it! They read, think, talk, but why don't they DO? According to the book The Knowing-Doing Gap by Pfeffer and Sutton, there are many reasons for this apparent conflict. The key is to turn knowledge into action. People get stuck at all levels of implementation. Based on research conducted by ACOT (Apple's Classrooms of Tomorrow), many people make it from survival to mastery, but get stuck here. They're not able to move on the impact and innovation levels.
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From Big Ideas to Small Steps
Do we lose sight of implementation when we focus on the "big picture"? Often we get so focused on the overall philosophy, outcomes, and activities that we forget about the small steps that will lead to implementation. Some teachers feel most comfortable exploring models and adapting the work of others before jumping in and developing their own projects. For example, you might start with the Marcopolo project. This large project focuses on linking national standards with lessons, units, activities, and resources. Working with national organizations websites such as Sciencenetlinks provide these resources and links to web resources on topics such as health. For instance, the American Museum of Natural History's Infection page and the Thinkquest project on germs.
Drive Out Fear
A first step to "getting out of the mud" is to gauge the atmosphere of your school. Many teachers are resistant or even fearful of technology. Consider ways to reduce these fears. Encourage teachers to identify their problems and concerns. Encourage them to talk about and even celebrate failure as a learning experience. Talk about the importance of communication and focus on discouraging negatives by rewarding creativity.
Prediction. Make technology predictable by providing information about technology expectations. Give teachers guidelines and timetables about what they should be doing. Help troubleshoot problems to minimize technology disruptions that cause frustration.
Understanding. Make technology expectations clear. What are we doing, when, and why? This should be more than "use" technology. It should include specific examples of what you mean by the "integration of technology." For example, provide examples of how the software Inspiration can be used as a way for students to organization ideas.
Control. Involve teachers in all aspects of decision making related to technology and curriculum. This will help create a smooth transition from decision to implementation.
Compassion. Put people first... technology is just the tool. Before you buy or install technology be sure that teachers are ready and that professional development activities are in place to support the new technology. Convey concern for the needs, interests, and feelings of teachers and students. Think about the needs of all students and teachers and how technology can specifically address a need. For example, the DK Science of Nature contains an audio component to support nonreaders.
Minimizing fear is the first step in "getting out of the mud". Look for models that combine information, activities, and teacher resources. The Science Museum of Canada contains some great lessons for children on topics such as electricity.
Ask yourself: What do you do in your school to address areas of prediction, understanding, control, and compassion.
Leggett and Persichitte (Tech Trends, 1998) have identified the TEARS of technology integration. They've found that over the past 50 years, educators have consistently identified five barriers to technology integration including time, expertise, access, resources, and support.
Time. Teachers consistently say that time is the greatest barrier to technology integration. The concerns regarding time have many elements including time to learn software, explore websites, create curriculum, practice strategies, implement ideas, and manage technology. In other words, they need curriculum development time with a technology focus. This might involve rescheduling the school day to facilitate teacher cohorts planning time. It could involve innovative incentives such as comp and release time. We need to rethink teaching roles. Some teachers are better with large groups of students, while others are wonderful facilitators. Could our classrooms "look different" in a technology-rich school? Finally, we need to focus on technology-rich learning environments that require little planning time, but have a high impact. For example, the Tooth Project involves students counting teeth and sharing this data with other classes. It's quick, it's easy, and a great project for primary classrooms. The website even has ideas for off-computer activities.
Expertise. Another frustration for educators is their feeling of inadequacy when it comes to technology. They often don't feel that they have the expertise they need to use technology in the classroom. Rather than just adding more workshops to the inservice schedule, think about the expertise already available and build on it. For example, rather than focusing on outside experts and staff development days, look within for professional development expertise. Look for good models. These teachers aren't always the "high tech" educators. Instead, seek people that are great teachers who happen to be doing interesting things with technology. Work toward teams of teachers and support groups that can encourage "teachers to teach teachers". This "within the building" support can lead to the "just-in-time" help that teachers complain is not available when a single "technology person" handles all technology issues. With time as an issue, consider ways that teachers can use the web for sharing. For example, this science activity is posted by a science teachers on a school website. Think about the millions of resources that would be available if every teacher would just share just one thing they do with technology in their classroom.
Access. The next frustration is access. Although access is getting better, it can make a tremendous difference in how technology is used. You need a pencil, now. Not in a particular room or at a particular time. Educators need access to technology anywhere, anytime. This means technology access in classrooms, libraries, labs, and department and grade level clusters. Everyone needs access at school, before school, after school, and at home. Students and teachers without access need to be able to easily check out the materials they need such as laptops, digital cameras, and hand-held devices.
Resources. Like access, resources are getting better. This includes professional development, technology, and physical/electrical issues. Professional development including training, resources, and most of all time. Technology includes purchasing, maintaining, and upgrading resources. Finally, physical and electrical issues including the ability to share from anywhere. One of the keys to resources is access. Many schools are putting professional development materials online, then providing teachers time for exploring, creation, and implementation. For example, this Inspiration resource is provided by a school district to support teacher technology integration.
Support. The final elements of TEARS is support. Consider both administrative leadership and technical support. Without leadership, it's easy to remain "stuck in the mud." This includes a vision, plan, role model, and encouragement. Technical support is equally important. Teachers need immediate, onsite technology help and troubleshooting assistance. Some assistance can be provided online. For example, the Teacher Tap provides a good place for teachers to start. Or, you might provide a list of tutorials or other online helpers.
Ask yourself: How do the TEARS impact your ability to implement technology projects in your school?
Building a Knowing-Doing Gap Survey
Brainstorm practices that you know are critical for successful technology infusion. You might do this brainstorm with a small group of teachers, administrators, and technology people. Now, ask your teachers to tell you which of these practices they are actually "doing." This is a quick way to judge the "knowing-doing" gap.
Ask yourself: What's the knowing-doing gap at your school?
Higher Levels of Professional Programs
Many schools are doing great things with technology already. What's the next step? In other words, we have a website with teachers resources, we use an intranet, listservs, and forums for communication, we have teacher-mentors, we offer great professional development opportunities, but there's still a knowing-doing gap. Use the "move it up" strategy. In other words, start with what's going well now and build on it. Move from entry level activities to "higher level" activities. For example, instead of just posting ideas for using Inspiration in the classroom, include grade level examples and template ideas.
Move it up… Many schools post lists of websites. Are your teachers really using these lists? Why or why not? Maybe your could go beyond the links and provide descriptions, discuss reading level and types of visuals, link to standards, post outcomes, or post activities. Start with a website such as one on Habitats. Then, go beyond the link and think about integration activities.
Move it up… Many schools post lesson plans. Are your teachers really using these plans? Why or why not? Again, go beyond the plan and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the project, classroom management strategies, adaptation options, or collaboration ideas. For example, this webquest on Writing Bills is a great start. Now, try using the resource and share your experience.
Move it up… Many teachers share teaching strategies. Now provide a way for teachers to share even more. Maybe discussing the pros and cons of an approach, ways to use the ideas with particular learning styles, sharing models and examples of implementation, or sharing contacts for discussion. For example, a school district website provides create activities. Now, consider how they link to your outcomes. In this case, the science outcome: The student will analyze the diversity and similarities that characterize life. Try the activity and see if it matches your outcome.
Move it up… Finally, many schools post step-by-step handouts for particular technology needs. Add some of the following elements to your handouts such as learn time, troubleshooting, teaching students, and ways to integrate. For example, your might provide ideas for creating online bookmarks and calendars such as Backflip, Yahoo Bookmarks or Yahoo Calendar. If you're teaching teachers to use they, provide ideas along with step-by-step instructions.

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Created by Annette Lamb, 02/01. Updated 4/01.