Technology Integration Is No Longer Optional – It Is Necessary

When I first started doing professional development in adult education in 1998, my buddy David Baker and I made it our focus to assist adult education instructors in their efforts to get technology into the classroom. We did several workshops around Illinois where we discussed seamless integration of technology. We even did a series of workshops on Mass Media and Pop Culture.  David and I had a great time doing these workshops. That was definitely a secondary goal. * smile* Our primary goal was to introduce easy to use and easy to incorporate technology to instructors who had little or no knowledge of computers, the Internet, and teaching with technology.

The thinking related to using technology in the adult education classroom in 1998-2000, when David and I took our show on the road, was that some were amazed, some were enthusiastic, some were eager, some were already doing it, and others met us with skepticism and doubt. I can not tell you how many times I heard this line almost verbatim from the skeptics, “I have taught for X number of years and I have had X number of students come through my classroom who have earned their GED(r) credential. I did that all without technology. I am not interested. What I am doing is working. Take a look at my track record.”Look back 10 years ago and think about what we were doing with life skills, soft skills and job skills in our classrooms. We definitely saw the need to integrate technology; things like keyboarding, Internet awareness and use, and the basic computer literacy type class work. Instructors who used that line, almost had a point. It was hard to argue with them. They did have a track record of successful passers, so clearly they were doing a great job. However, the world was different 10-12 years ago. We must now be teaching using technology. We must be showing students how to use technology through our efforts at our programs.  The “I have taught X years without technology…” Should no longer be a badge of honor that some are willing to wear. It is our role in the adult education classroom and at the overall program level, to introduce appropriate technologies and to teach our students how to use technology in a responsible, educated way.

(See our Social Media Guidelines post for some additional info on appropriate/responsible use of technology.)

If you are an adult education professional development provider OR an adult education program administrator OR a curious instructor *smile* you should read this list of reasons for technology use in adult education. Whip this list out when you encounter the person who says “I have done it without technology for years and I am not changing now…”

  1. It’s a Key Component of Educational and Workplace Success. Using technology feeds into what the Common Core standards are all about. The Common Core standards are about college and career readiness, and technological fluency is key in being prepared for one’s future. Also, all tests will one day be online, with not only the need to use a keyboard but to submit components of the assessments that were digitally created. We are on the cusp of that in Adult Education right now, i.e. 2014 Assessment from GEDTS.
  1. It Addresses the 4Cs: Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Critical-Thinking. We want students to create; technology helps us do that. We want students to be published; technology helps us do that. We want students to collaborate; technology helps us do that. We want students to learn skills in our adult education programs that will help them be better, more productive members of society who find success in higher education or the workplace after they leave our programs; technology helps us do that.
  1. Daily Use is Vital. It isn’t enough to go to the computer lab on occasion, jockeying for time for the class to sit down and type. No. Using technology should be a daily tool, where there are no issues of log in and lost instructional time due to lack of exposure and comfort. If the tools are employed regularly to support the content then there are no issues of having to re-teach how to use the technology in the few times we have access to it. When we bring the students to the lab, technology becomes the lesson. When the lab is an integral part of the classroom, it becomes an organic tool supporting the content.
  1. Must Close the Gap. If we don’t provide technology in the classroom, the digital gap grows. There are so many things that i-Pathways instructors are doing with students, they are Skyping, but only those with technology at home can view them. They can blog with their students, or set up a virtual classroom as office hours, but only those with access to technology will respond to the assignment. With technology in the classroom, instructors can bridge that divide, granting access to all.
  1. It’s an Issue of Equity. Much like providing a classroom library for students who do not own books at home, we cannot wait for more students to own laptops or iPads in order to provide them ourselves. Because of the accessibility and constant use of the devices in the classroom, the students don’t need to have access at home to be learning how to use 21st century tools.

NOTE: This list has been modified from the list found in this article geared for K-12 instructors, authored by Heather Wolpert-Gawron. I encourage you to read the entire article, but if you don’t, making note of this list will help you take on the skeptics and doubters. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/tech-use-classroom-necessity-heather-wolpert-gawron

i-Pathways is a tool that will help instructors easily integrate technology into the classroom. When used as an in class supplement, i-Pathways provides online learning experiences that includes navigating the internet, interacting with other students online, live chat and whiteboard experiences, and a quality learning curriculum. What is stopping you from inquiring about using i-Pathways in your classroom today???? Are your technology skills and comfort level standing in the way??? Have no fear, we have one of the best support teams in the country! We have teacher mentors and a help desk that is top-notch. We are ready to help you, help your students. Start today!

Contact me, Crystal Hack, i-Pathways Project Director at chack@cait.org to find out more info about how to bring i-Pathways to your students and start integrating technology and computer-based learning.

2 thoughts on “Technology Integration Is No Longer Optional – It Is Necessary

  1. I couldn’t agree more with this post. Along with an attitude check about teaching with technology, I feel we must also take a look at other reasons preventing us from fully integrating technology as a commonly used tool in the adult ed classroom and begin bridging the gap in those areas. The most challenging piece we face in this task has been primarily in those efforts at our off-campus classes. One way to address this has been to expand our community partnerships to include more of our district schools. We have already moved several classes that were meeting at a church or community building with very limited or no access to technology at all into an elementary or high school building where those options are more readily available. i-Pathways is another example – it is not necessary to have a computer lab when offering i-Pathways as a distance learning program. For those students who use i-Pathways in its distance learning format and attend a virtual classroom, having access to a technology equipped traditional classroom suddenly becomes a non-issue!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s