Bill MacKenty

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Moving from a drop-off model to an integrated model

Posted in Educational Tech Design on 16 - March 2011 at 04:30 AM (13 years ago). 204 views.

The question popped up on a moodle forum about moving from a lab environment to a more integrated environment.

Right now, and for several years, we've had a weekly schedule where teachers bring their classes to the lab and work with an ICT Teacher. (The teacher stays for the lesson; it's not a send-them-away special class like Music or Physical Education.)

The “drop-off” model plagues many school tech integration efforts. If your teachers are already involved and invested in integrating, the transition will be less disruptive.

I see you say, “stays for the lesson” - is that “stays in the back with coffee chatting / checking email” or “stays walking around the room looking / commenting on content”? The distinction is important.

Another key question to ask is who is “responsible” for the lesson. Is there collaborative planning, developing the assessment, sharing responsibility for teaching necessary skills during the project in addition to monitoring students during lab time? If your ICT teacher consistently finds ways to involve the teachers in taking the lead on the lessons, the transition to teachers working with students independently (either in the lab or classroom) will happen naturally, or maybe with a little nudge.

But essentially the lab is fully booked with those scheduled classes, so there's not a lot of wiggle room for extra time in the lab or extra time with an ICT teacher.

Ask 5 random teachers: why do we want to change this? If they can’t answer the “why”, then you’ve got a vision problem. Although you can’t make 100% people happy 100% of the time, this change will ripple into teachers classrooms. Observe good change management.

We're looking at changing that and making it more of a flexible sign-up approach, so that during units where more technology integration is appropriate, classes could book more time with the ICT teachers.

This makes sense. At ASW we use google-shared calendar to manage lab time. The Tech Integrator also shares out her calendar so folks can schedule a project in the lab (or classroom with netbooks) when she is free if needed. Many teachers just sign up for the lab (we use our lab for the higher end projects not feasible on our classroom netbooks).

Also, we'd like to free up the ICT teacher's time a bit more so that they could push into the classroom more often, and not always be in the lab. At the same time, we don't want to lose the contact time with each class.

How do you view the primary role of your ICT teacher? Tech teacher or coach? If it is coach, it is imperative that you free up your ICT teacher to work collaboratively with classroom teachers. Is there technology in the classrooms as well, or is the lab the only technology available?

We're a bit worried that less-tech-enthusiastic teachers would choose not to sign up as often. There's also the concern that students wouldn't get the necessary ICT skills if they weren't taught explicitly, the way we have done it in the past.

This points to vision. There is also clear empirical evidence that administration expectations of technology use stimulates use. I don’t mean to beat this point to death, but vision, vision, vision. If teachers have a plan how they will integrate, you are in luck. If not, oof.

We're thinking of having a trial year to phase it in, maybe cutting every other scheduled class next year so that we could keep some but still free some time up for sign-ups.

Um, no. This way, your reluctant teachers would just wait it out until the model went back to the old way. Do the vision thing right. Spend a year at it, throw some money at it, and get everyone on board. It’s so hard to bring reluctant faculty on board if they haven’t bought into a vision. It’s so much easier when everyone is on board.

Have any of you had experience - positive or negative - in switching from a set schedule to a more open one?

At ASW we have just moved to an open schedule is the ES tech lab. Funny thing, the teachers we spent a year with clearly explaining “we are moving to an integrated model” didn’t have a lot of hard bumps. But there is one grade level who was never told “we are moving to an integrated model”. Guess where we are having our biggest pushback? And this grade level isn't composed of luddites! They are enthusiastic, experienced and willing to try new things - but they didn't hear (or buy into) our move to an integrated program.

Ideas or suggestions for us? Things to watch out for?

Please see above. Really. Visioning isn’t a sexy bold thing, but it SO CLEARLY realizes effective integration.

If you've made this transition, was everyone happy afterwards?

Most people are - but we have a very veteran, experienced, and vocal grade level who wasn’t on board with this change. To be fair, we are actually down an integrator. Our Elementary school should have 2 integrators; we only have 1. Our success this year really belongs to our elementary school integrator, who has been working very hard to push into classrooms and meet with teams on a regular basis. She deserves the credit for our successes.

Looking back, would you do it differently?

Sure we would - spend a year visioning, have 2 full time integrators, and really make sure this change was going to improve student learning. As it stands now, this change feels like an awkward start to a race. But we are finding our stride, and moving forward.