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Running Head: Philosophy of Instructional Technology

Philosophy of Instructional Technology

Roles and Responsibilities of Technology Leaders in the Twenty-First Century

Nicholas Martin
The University of Akron

Introduction to Instructional Technology
October 28, 2012
Dr. I-Chun Tsai
Running Head: Philosophy of Instructional Technology

Instructional technology can be a powerful tool to help students and teachers achieve
maximum results for student learning. Integrating technology into an educational environment
is a complex process. When done in the right way, technology can open new doors for students
and help them reach new learning heights as successful global citizens. When done in the
wrong way, however, students will not be prepared with the skills needed for the future.
Digital technologies have helped create a society that is much more connected than it
has ever been before. Through the use of mobile devices, conferencing tools, and file sharing
programs and increasing access to broadband or wireless Internet, people can quickly share
information and ideas with family, friends, co-workers, or business partners in places hundreds
or even thousands of miles away. Students need to develop the skills that will help them be
successful in the workforce and active participants in the global marketplace. Teachers need to
create and engage students in authentic, real-world learning experiences that encourage
students to practice critical thinking, be creative, collaborate with others, and communicate
what they have learned skills that will prepare students for the jobs of the twenty-first
century. Technology is vital to helping teachers accomplish this goal for student learning. Since
students use technology to communicate and make decisions outside of school, we should give
students similar experiences in the classroom to improve the quality of their learning.
However, when designing and delivering instruction using technology in the twenty-first
century, teachers are fearful of change and have a tendency to want things to remain the same
(Rogers, 2002). Technology leaders can help teachers overcome this fear by introducing
teachers to new technologies and showing teachers how to use them in their classrooms. This
can be accomplished through one-on-one training or small group instruction. A more difficult
Running Head: Philosophy of Instructional Technology

task for technology leaders is helping teachers shift their focus from using the technology to
developing effective goals and objectives for student learning (Rogers). Clear, concise learning
goals and objectives, combined with effective teaching strategies, should drive instruction, not
the technology being used. Once teachers have defined specific learning targets that they want
students to meet, technology leaders can help teachers choose the right technology that will
help students be successful learners and reach those learning outcomes. Technology leaders
have the responsibility to help educators see the importance behind identifying specific reasons
for using technology and how it will impact student learning and academic achievement before
integrating it into their classrooms. If teachers choose the technology first, then it will get the
most attention (Abbey, 2010). Teachers need to have a clear vision of what they want students
to do using technology. Otherwise, students could get the wrong impression that the learning
target is actually how to use the technology, not a specific skill from the curriculum or state
standards. Seymour Papert describes the practice of teachers choosing digital and resources
first as technocentric, since the teacher is focusing more on the technology that is being used
rather than the students who are trying to use it to learn (Harris and Hofer, 2009). Educators
need to realize that technology is just a tool that can be used to improve student achievement
and learning, not the end goal of instruction (Abbey).
Technology in the digital era is always changing, so it is important for technology leaders
to keep up with the latest software, web applications, and educational websites and share this
information with teachers and colleagues. Technology leaders should also track changes to
existing technologies that are being used by students and teachers and provide frequent
updates or training. In order to reflect this ever-changing landscape, technology leaders also
Running Head: Philosophy of Instructional Technology

need to keep improving their personal technology skills. However, knowledge about using
technology and adapting to frequent changes in technology is just one part of what constitutes
successful technology integration into any educational setting. As previously stated, teachers
should only choose what technology to use after defining learning goals and objectives. This
requires teachers to have a strong content knowledge about the subject matter they are
teaching. In order to help students achieve those goals and objectives, teachers should also
have a strong pedagogical knowledge about the characteristics of their students and specific
learning strategies and teaching methods that help students achieve success. When content
knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and technological knowledge are linked together, the
result is TPCK, or technological pedagogical content knowledge. TPCK is a model for effective
and meaningful teaching with technology that emerges from interactions between content,
pedagogy, and technology knowledge (AACTE Committee, 2008). Technology leaders need to
help teachers develop TPACK by finding effective uses of technology based on the subject area
of the class and the characteristics of the learners. If teachers and technology leaders do not
spend enough time reflecting on the skills they want students to learn or how students at a
certain age or developmental level develop knowledge, then teaching and learning with the use
of technology could be ineffective. Therefore, it is important for technology leaders to have the
ability to find flexible technological solutions based on the unique interactions between content
and pedagogy, choosing the technology that is best suited for specific teaching and learning
situations (AACTE Committee). The choice of instructional tools and resources, including
technology, becomes clearer once learning goals have been set, pedagogical decisions have
been made regarding the instructional context, and learning activities and assessment methods
Running Head: Philosophy of Instructional Technology

have been selected (Harris and Hofer, 2009). During this instructional planning process, the
focus for teachers and technology leaders should always remain on student learning.
Since the focus should always be on student learning, technology leaders should ensure
that teachers are using technology in appropriate ways to accomplish this goal. Teachers
should not be the only ones using technology in the classroom, and students should not be
interacting with technology passively. For example, an interactive whiteboard should not just
be used to display a teachers computer screen. Instead, students should be given chances to
draw, write, or manipulate objects on the whiteboard for learning. Teachers should engage all
students in meaningful learning tasks, instead of only using technology for drill and practice
exercises, which is a common trend among students from low-income families (AACTE
Committee, 2008). Technology leaders should help teachers develop learning tasks that require
students to use technology to extend their thinking, demonstrate understanding in multiple
ways, communicate with teachers and peers, and evaluate information found on the Internet
and use it to solving problems (AACTE Committee). Technology leaders should consider how to
use digital learning tools to empower students with different learning abilities and learning
styles and students from different cultural backgrounds (Williamson and Redish, 2009). Also,
teachers should not deny students access to technology as a punishment or use technology as a
reward, since struggling students often act out to avoid using computers (AACTE Committee).
Students need to develop a strong appreciation for technology and value it for more than just
entertainment, but rather as a tool to help them acquire knowledge about people and places
around the globe and share that knowledge with others.
Running Head: Philosophy of Instructional Technology

Once teachers and technology leaders have found the right technology that matches the
learning situation in which it will be used, it is important to consider the range of issues that
could arise from introducing technology into an educational environment. Technology leaders
should provide clear guidance in unfamiliar situations and help students, teachers, and school
administrators understand potential problems and challenges and make appropriate decisions
based upon social, ethical, legal, and human standards. Even when the challenges appear to be
daunting, technology leaders need to look at these challenges as opportunities to ensure
technology is being used in safe, healthy, and equitable ways to promote education for all
students (Williamson and Redish, 2009).
One issue that technology leaders face on a regular basis is ensuring that all students
and teachers have access to the technologies they need to be successful. In addition to
developing technological resources at school, technology leaders should work to ensure that all
students have access to computers or other information technology resources outside of school
in order to complete assignments or communicate with their teachers or peers about learning
tasks. Teachers and technology leaders must collaborate with school administrators, parents,
and community organizations to find ways to secure access to computer hardware, software
applications, and the Internet for all students (AACTE Committee, 2008). Technology leaders
can survey students and parents to find out what kinds of technology is available to students at
home and how well students can use them for learning. As the use of technology to support
teaching and learning increases, the issue of equitable access to technology will become more
important, especially for schools in low-income, high-poverty, or cultural minority areas where
access is limited both at home and at school (AACTE Committee). If technology leaders want to
Running Head: Philosophy of Instructional Technology

address this problem, then they should continue to challenge perceptions about the role that
technology plays in education, affirm the role of culture in education, encourage teachers to
create more opportunities for students to use technology outside the classroom, and continue
to seek funding for new technologies (Williamson and Redish, 2009).
Another essential issue that technology leaders should address with students, teachers,
and families is online safety. Technology leaders should make sure that their school has a
firewall or web filter to block students access to inappropriate websites. To receive federal
funding, school districts must have protections in place to block sites that are harmful to
children under the Childrens Internet Protection Act (Williamson and Redish, 2009). Students,
teachers, and families should be taught the difference between appropriate and inappropriate
websites for children and how to recognize signs of cyberbullying. Students should be taught to
never share personal information online with someone they dont know and to tell a trusted
adult if they ever feel unsafe online. Older students should be taught that e-mails, text
messages, and posts to social media sites can be tracked and traced back to them. It is the role
of technology leaders to find safe online learning communities where students and teachers
can share ideas and knowledge through positive interactions. Technology leaders should make
sure that students, teachers, and families have signed acceptable use policies or Internet usage
agreements and understand the rules and regulations outlined in those documents. Despite
the challenges, technology leaders should find a compromise between giving students
unrestricted use of the Internet and not giving students any opportunities to use the Internet
for learning. Social networking helps students develop creativity, gives students the chance to
create multimedia products, and enhances students technical skills (Williamson and Redish).
Running Head: Philosophy of Instructional Technology

There are other social, ethical, and legal issues that technology leaders should address
with students and teachers. First, technology leaders should teach students and teachers about
copyright laws and plagiarism. Technology leaders should model copyright adherence, enforce
rules about unauthorized duplication of copyrighted materials, and use technological solutions
to prevent teachers from installing software without permission (Williamson and Redish, 2009).
Technology leaders should promote a climate where new ideas and information that belong to
other people are treated with respect and should be properly cited in academic or professional
work. Second, technology leaders should ensure that students personal information is kept
private and secure by preventing unauthorized access and encouraging teachers and staff to be
careful about accessing information (i.e. grades, IEPs, and medical records) in situations where
it might be visible to others. Third, technology leaders should stay current in their knowledge
of federal and state laws that affect the use of technology in education, so they can share
changes in these laws with teachers, staff, and administrators.
Sometimes teachers and technology leaders have to be creative in their choice of what
technology to use and think beyond what a certain technology is designed to do. Newer digital
technologies have essential features that make it harder for teachers and technology leaders to
apply them in certain learning situations, and the knowledge that educators need to use digital
technologies is always changing (AACTE Committee, 2008). The world of technology keeps
reinventing itself at a rapid pace with new discoveries, new ideas, and new products that are
different than the ones they replace. Therefore, it is important for technology leaders to
provide regular training to help teachers learn about new technologies and find creative ways
to use them to enhance student learning. Technology leaders should promote lifelong learning
Running Head: Philosophy of Instructional Technology

as a way to deal with constant change and encourage teachers to break the functional
fixedness and personal biases that are barriers to integrating technology in intelligent and
innovative ways (AACTE Committee).
Since the use of communication and entertainment technologies has recently become
so pervasive among our nations students, technology leaders should find effective ways to use
ways to use technology to assess student learning in core academic areas and evaluate student
technology literacy. In a 2005 survey, U.S. students were averaging 44.5 hours a week using
media and 26% of those students reported using more than one medium at the same time
(Williamson and Redish, 2009). Technology leaders should search for effective technological
solutions that can help teachers track student performance and provide frequent, immediate
feedback, which helps teachers modify and differentiate instruction to best meet the learning
needs of all students. Technology leaders can work to help teachers use student response
systems to assess if students have mastered skills or need further instruction, or work to secure
funding if not currently available. Even though there are limited tools available to assess
student technology literacy and these tools are expensive, technology leaders should strive to
learn more about these systems (Williamson and Redish). Until quality technology assessments
are developed, technology leaders should work with teachers to find ways for students to
develop key technology literacy skills within existing classroom activities or learning-based
projects. Our nations students should not have to wait to become proficient in the skills that
will help them succeed in the digital age and global economy of the twenty-first century. It is
important for teachers and technology leaders to have a common, shared vision about learning
technology-based skills, so that our students see technology as the window to the future.
Running Head: Philosophy of Instructional Technology

According to recent surveys of teachers, it is imperative that technology leaders change
teachers perceptions about using technology for learning in the classroom. In a 2006 national
survey of random teachers, only 54% of teachers said that technology had significantly changed
the way they teach, 37% said that they integrated technology on a daily basis, and 26% felt
highly competent about integrating technology into instruction (Williamson and Redish,
2009). Since classroom teachers are faced with the challenges of managing their students on a
daily basis, along with paperwork and other duties, it is the role of technology leaders to make
the process of learning about new technologies more accessible, more convenient, and more
engaging. Technology leaders should not just train teachers on how to use technology, but
should demonstrate how new instructional technologies can be used to support and improve
student learning. If technology leaders are ineffective or unable to help teachers make this
connection and design effective learning experiences for all students, then it will be harder to
change teachers attitudes about technology and make integration more difficult.
Once the connection to student learning has been made, technology leaders can help
educators integrate technology into instruction. When technology is truly integrated, the focus
shifts from learning the technology to using it effectively for teaching (Rogers, 2002). Teachers
no longer just use technology because it is convenient. Instead, teachers use technology to give
students real-world learning experiences that help students construct knowledge by creating
original works and connecting students to an infinite number of resources and people
(Abbey, 2010). Through these experiences, students are able to appreciate technology and use
it to explore new ideas, solve problems, analyze data, express creativity, and share knowledge
with diverse audiences. Students are challenged to become independent, self-directed learners
Running Head: Philosophy of Instructional Technology

who set their own goals, ask questions to clarify understanding, monitor individual and group
progress, and choose the right tools that will support their own learning. Technology leaders
should strive to provide whatever support, guidance, or expertise that is needed to create this
type of dynamic learning environment for all students in any educational setting.
In conclusion, technology leaders face many challenges and issues when working to
integrate technology into teaching and learning. Teaching with technology is difficult to do
well, and there is not a perfect solution to this problem (AACTE Committee, 2008). To be
successful, technology leaders need to develop a team that includes teachers, administrators,
and families to address these challenges and issues in ways that work best for their students
and schools. Technology leaders should be active participants in making informed decisions
about technology using current data and research and make sure those decisions have a direct,
positive impact on student learning. Technology decisions should always be based on the
unique learning context and classroom environment in which it will be integrated. The goal
that should drive all efforts to integrate technology into any educational situation should be
helping students develop the skills that are needed to be successful twenty-first century
learners and productive citizens of the global information age.

Running Head: Philosophy of Instructional Technology


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Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) for Educators. New York: Routledge.
Abbey, E. (2010, February 2). The Digital Curriculum. Retrieved October 22, 2012, from
Changing Iowa: Heartland AEA 1:1 Resources:
Harris, J., & Hofer, M. (2009). Instructional planning activity types as vehicles for curriculum-
based TPACK development. Research highlights in technology and teacher education
2009, 99-108.
Rogers, P. (2002). An Overview of Teacher-Designers: How Teachers Use Instructional Design in
Real Classrooms. In P. Rogers, Designing Instruction for Technology-Enhanced Learning
(pp. 1-17). Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishing.
Williamson, J., & Redish, T. (2009). ISTE's Technology Faciliation and Leadership Standards:
What Every K-12 Leader Should Know and Be Able to Do. Eugene, Oregon: International
Society for Technology in Education.