Planning the Integration of Technology into the Curriculum

Planning the Integration of Technology into the Curriculum

Morocco World News

Khalil Zakari

Morocco World News

Rabat, August 24, 2012

Technology is remarkably emerging as an important component of recent reforms in educational systems world-wide. Macro-implementation decisions have paved the way for the implementation of technology in education and training and instructions about planning for technology have already made their way to so many guidelines and programs. The new technology is continuously being promoted as a quite efficient tool for improving learning and teaching.

Planning the incorporation of information technology in the curriculum is a process which, basically, provides assurance that applications are aligned with the desired mainstream. That is, plans should be guided by education and training needs of learners, and, therefore, objectives related to national education goals should be explicitly and clearly specified. In other words, plans should ensure that they do, indeed, address the needs of all the users and, consequently, assessing these needs is a prerequisite for effective planning. In addition, since the implementation of technology in education seeks to expand teaching and learning beyond what could normally be done with the currently used materials, guidelines concerning applications must be provided. Most of the time, when the injected device is innovatory, people need to be informed of its usage. Here, awareness of, or reference to, practices that have proved to be educationally beneficial can be of great value. These guidelines can easily be adopted, perhaps with some moderation, from others that worked. Drawing up these guidelines, in my view, must not be a painstaking task because networking and exchange are intrinsic to information technology.

Inspired by the comprehensive studies of technology application over the past five years on the California Model Technology Schools Projects, Cradler (1992) suggests a list of basic steps for applying the planned approach to technology implementation:

1. Convene a school or departmental planning committee. Identify the stakeholders to include the teachers, a district office representative, parents, the principal, possible business partners like software developers, regional agency, or department of Education as appropriate. Perhaps, in our context, the district office representative is the hardest to nudge into the committee’s mainstream. It is a team work. Technology use planning should become part of existing local school planning procedures. This will help to ensure that technology will become integrated into the existing educational program.

 2. Co-ordinate with existing school and district plans. The School Technology Plan (STP) should become an integral part of the existing school plan already required by some successful programs. That is, it should necessarily provide a vehicle for communicating steps and findings for others who are involved in other project or programs. Within academies, the “Centres de Documentation Pedagogique” might easily assume this co-ordination role.

3. Identify student and school program needs. A review of the school inventories, school performance and accreditation reports, and other relevant information will determine needs for the application of technology. Needs should be focused on and zooming potential discrepancies between already existing and targeted conditions for both teaching and learning.

4. Integrate the school-wide technology planning with the curriculum. The STP should describe how the use of technology will align with and expand district and state curriculum and instructional objectives. “Any technology integration requires that teachers engage in rethinking, re-shifting, and re-shaping their curriculum” (Means,1993). The planning process should provide the opportunity for educators to become aware of and discuss the possibilities for current and emerging technologies to expand and enhance teaching and learning. That is, it should allow teachers the opportunity to collaboratively construct new visions for their daily practice.

5. Objectives and Activities. A plan should describe school-wide objectives with related activities that describe how technology applications directly relate to instruction, curriculum enhancement, and the school program. The objectives should be directly linked to the documented learner and teacher needs.

6. Classroom Level Technology Intervention. The STP should describe activities planned for each classroom. Research and experience shows that planning is most effective when it is extended to the classroom and describes what teachers do to implement their part of the plan. “Linking planning to the classroom level ensures that teachers will have a clear vision of what they will do to implement their part of the STP” (Cradler, 1994). The classroom planning process is expected to give teachers a clear view of what technology to implement and provide a way for them to communicate about the project to other educators and to stakeholders.

7. Staff Development. The STP should describe the staff development and follow-up assistance necessary for successful implementation of planned activities. It must directly support the activities indicated in the classroom plans. Available staff development days should be made possible by school improvement programs.

8. Prepare an Evaluation Plan. The STP should provide a general description of the process for evaluating the project. The process should include procedures for monitoring, implementing, collecting information of student outcomes, and assessing the effects on teaching and instructional practices. Evaluation provides the necessary information to help convince a future funding agency that the project or plan is worth additional funding.

 9. Develop a STP Budget and funding strategy. Identify adequate funding for the plan and involve the school and district administration developing the STP budget which should describe all sources of funding ranging from the general school budget to any special grants or donations. There are many sources of funding often are overlooked. For example, many businesses are interested in forming partnerships with schools and districts to support their application of technology in the classroom. Such business should be identified early in the planning process when resources are being identified.

10. Implement, monitor, and revise the plan. When the plan is implemented, the planning committee should provide support and monitoring of the project as it is implemented. The evaluation and assessment information should be used for making mid-course corrections and to report progress to the committee, school and district staff, and other stakeholders for the project. The planning committee must provide the support and advocacy needed to flame up the interest of the people involved in executing the plan. It becomes obvious, then, given this multitude of tasks and commitments, that planning for the insertion of this new technology into educational institutions, incorporating it into their curricula and keeping on updating all what it involves is a big work to be done. The project demands insightful decisions and requires an array of painstaking engagements. Enormous macro-policy decisions have to be taken, for which an amount of professionalism and expertise is also intrinsically indispensable.

The state of the art in a relatively representative sample of Moroccan secondary schools, however, reveals that information technology is yet far from becoming institutionalized. No more than three desktops, most of which are kept untouchable, still in their uniforms, in an office at the administration headquarters. Many an interviewed teacher would assert that access to the newly acquired material is seldom denied. “The computer is funded as an “add- on” to the school”. Said one; “… I see its presence, there, at the headmaster’s office as an expression of intention, as it were”. All is well, for at least there is a will to look up to standards. The national education reform agendas “ALMITHAQ AL WATANI‘ and ALKITAB ALABYAD” should far more encourage all stakeholders to have incentives for developing such orientation and elaborating such action plans.

The rational for the integration of technology into our instructional programs must first be adhered to. Moroccan EL T professionals are seen to be trying to explore and tame the new technology tools, one must confess. Seminars, colloquia, courses, pedagogical meetings and “hands-on” workshops are being organized in many academies and delegations, throughout the kingdom, in which basic computer and the Internet skills are transmitted to teachers and teacher educators. Acknowledgement should be made to the Regional English Language Office, the British Council, the Moroccan Association of Teachers of English and Ed-Links-Morocco for their creditable attempts to encourage a maximum of colleagues to do away with inhibitions towards information technology and learn how to use it in increasing intellectual reach, enhancing networks of cooperation and exchange and empowering the teaching/ learning process.

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