Tech use vs tech integration in the classroom

Technology Use vs. Technology Integration in the Classroom

Classrooms are now a hub of technology. Tablet devices, laptops and even phones are employed to enable the great task of learning.  

But the goal of EdTech is more than simply digitizing existing classroom tasks. Instead, it strives to integrate or incorporate technology into the very fabric of teaching and learning. But what does this mean exactly, and how is technology use different from full technological integration?




What Are the Goals of Technology Use and Technology Integration?

Even for the technologically hesitant amongst us, there is no denying that certain tech tools and processes make educators’ life a lot easier. Things that used to take an hour’s copying out with a pen or involved printing 100 separate sheets, can now be coordinated with a single click from the couch. But using technology to make certain existing tasks easier is only one of the many ways that a classroom environment can benefit from the use of technology.

So what is the difference between tech use and true tech integration?


Technology use: Using technology sporadically and largely by teaching staff to automate or digitize existing processes.

Common signs of tech use:

  • Tech is mostly used by staff and rarely by students.
  • The use of tech is sporadic and often an afterthought.
  • Tech is used for only individualistic tasks.
  • A lot of time is spent learning how to use the tech tool rather than using it to learn other things.
  • Tech is used to deliver information and the actual technology is peripheral to the learning process.


Technology integration: Embracing technology as an active method to support learning, access to knowledge and developing computational styles of thinking. 

Common signs of tech integration:

  • Tech usage is planned and purposeful across both individual classrooms and schools more broadly.
  • Devices and tech apps are a routine part of classroom activities. Everyone is confident using and learning with them.
  • Tech is mostly used by students.
  • Planned technology deployment supports broader curricular and learning goals. It also actively aids engagement with educational content rather than just providing access to content. 
  • Technology is a key part of building knowledge, not just delivering it. It is in itself an essential part of the learning activity.

Integrating technology into the classroom comes with a whole host of benefits. Notably, it allows improved collaboration, embraces all-access learning, provides different options for learning pace and even content to make activities more exciting and manageable for students. The benefits of using technology as an active part of classroom activities are many and varied. You can learn more about them here:



How can you integrate tech into your classroom?

So how can you take your classroom tech strategy up a notch and graduate from simply using tools to fully embracing the benefits it offers?


1.Evaluate the tech resources you have to work with

The scale of tech adoption varies markedly across schools globally and nationally. You may be one of the lucky ones working within a district that is pumping resources into sophisticated 1:1 device schemes. Or you may be plowing ahead with a battered teacher laptop and one ancient desktop at the back of the classroom. Either way, it’s important to evaluate what is possible with the resources you have at hand. 

That being said, if you have limited tech resources at your disposal don’t throw in the towel straight away. With the help of creative educational apps and collaborative documents, there are still some great ways to incorporate tech into your classroom learning. For example, setting up a story station on your single computer and having everyone contribute a paragraph.


2. Consider high-level skills  you want to cultivate with technology

Once you have a solid understanding of your tech resources it’s time to start considering how you can best make use of them. Depending on your subject and the aims for your students, there are many creative ways that you can bring technology into the classroom. But remember, the key here is to strategically integrate it with your classroom work. One-off special tech lessons are great, but technology integration requires consistent use. Consider what high-level skills you are looking to cultivate in your class – is it improved comprehension, better critical thinking or logical working out? How could technology help you to build these skills in students? If you’re stuck for ideas check out some great ones here.




3. Research which apps or tools can help you

The days where your computer resources were limited to the Microsoft package and anything else came on a CDrom are fortunately long gone. There are now a wealth of exciting apps and activities available specifically for educational purposes.

Once you have your strategic aims nailed it’s time to do some research to check out what tools can help you to deliver. Apps and Chrome extensions are a great place to start, as they are easy to install and many have a free version to get you started. Remember to always check the data protection of apps BEFORE bringing them into the classroom. It is also well worth seeking out tools that have been designed specifically with the education environment in mind as they will cater better to your needs and help keep your students safe.


4. Design a variety of activities for your lessons

So now the big bit. How are you actually going to use your cool tech resources in the physical classroom? The first thing is to plan lessons and create solid activities that you can explain to your students. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make every activity totally original. It’s okay to use your new tech tools to do some of the classic tasks like close reading or completing homework assignments. 



5. Make it a routine

So you’ve nailed your activities and they have proved a big success in the few classes that you’ve tried. Now it’s time to make them mainstream. This means getting your class used to consistently using the tech and apps they have at hand to complete and engage with a variety of tasks. 

This should get easier once everyone is comfortable with how to use your new tools and importantly what is expected of them when using it. It can be useful to create a set of standards or loose rules at this stage around how to appropriately use the tech just to ensure a smooth transition. For example screens off when the teacher is talking or never touching someone else’s device.  


6. Give it time

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and likewise, it will take a bit of time to get yourself and your class used to integrate with tech. At first, it may even feel tempting to just revert back to pen and paper for a bit, but with perseverance will get you the results you want and much much more. 


At Kami we believe that the digital classroom is an opportunity to make learning more accessible and exciting for everyone. Our app allows you to take any existing document, including scanned PDFs, and write, draw, type, annotate, comment, augment, enhance, and otherwise bring it to life – all within your browser. It’s intuitive design and collaborative features are specifically designed to improve classroom engagement and interaction – all while making the task of providing and completing classroom assignments effortless.

Learn more about how you could use Kami to achieve true tech integration here.


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