Sunday, 24 November 2013

Integration at the Primary Level - how can we support teachers?

This weekend I was fortunate enough to participate in some great PD through the Global Education Conference 2013. As a primary teacher I was particularly interested in a session called "Integrating technology in primary classrooms from the learning theories" hosted by Taru Malhotra. Taru is a grad student at York University's Faculty of Education. This session attracted educators from all over the world and it was interesting to hear a variety of global perspectives. Taru work questioned whether or not learning theories such as Vygotsky were still relevant and relatable to our present classrooms with the integration of technology. As technology offers the benefits of increasing engagement, motivation, interactions, collaborative opportunities and meeting individual needs of students there are still issues with respect to teacher education and development for authentic implementation especially at the early childhood and primary levels. In her research she has found that many teachers are not using technology as an instructional delivery system or teaching and learning process due to lack of education, confidence or support. She points to Vygotsky's theory that a child's environment particular in primary years plays a critical role in a child's development. She suggests that teachers must understand that technology such as Ipads, Ipods, etc like other resources are just like and other "environment". She also pointed to Vygotsky's thoughts on scaffolding for students and how this idea is just as important for teachers. Training programs need to consider scaffolding for teachers and recognize the importance of collaboration, learning from others to transform our own beliefs of technology integration. One of the attendee comments was related to personal use of technology. It seems that the more we use technology in our personal life the more we are comfortable using within the classroom. Which made sense to me. As someone who is still working on being that "connected" educator I find that I need to be comfortable and confident and see the purpose in a product before I even entertain it's use in my classroom.

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