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Integrating technology. Yes. It’s different than simply using technology


I’m spending part of  today getting ready for my METC presentation next week.

(The not so subtle self-promotion? My session on using Flipboard and Pocket as content management tools is next Wednesday at 9:45 in Junior Ballroom A, Lower Level. I’m sure once it’s finished, the presentation is gonna be great. Fingers crossed.)

And as part of my presentation prep, I’m exploring what it really means to integrate technology. I started with the idea that just because teachers or their students use technology as part of teaching and learning, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are actually integrating technology into what they’re doing.

That idea morphed into the next:

Does it make a difference?

I’ve decided that it does. Using technology is different that integrating technology. Using a microwave to heat soup doesn’t make you a chef. Using Google Docs to create an outline doesn’t mean that you’re integrating technology.

But I was curious what others are saying so I started digging into what those differences might look like. And I ran across a older blog post by Aditi Rao over at Teachbytes. Aditi apparently was having a similar conversation several years ago when she created a handy-dandy chart that outlined her thoughts.


The SAMR model has gained ground since she published her post and there are some strong similarities between the two. But I still like her work – there are some specific indicators here that can be helpful to us as we design learning activities. And taken together, a great conversation starter.

So what is technology integration in the social studies?

A planned and purposeful use of information and communication technology tools with the goal of engaging students and helping them develop high levels of historical thinking skills.

The opposite?

Technology for technology’s sake. Tools and apps that drive instructional design. Technology that focuses on teacher behaviors rather than student learning. A focus on platforms rather than results.

This means less notetaking during lectures and more online collaborative document analysis using Padlet or Google Keep. It means less sharing of digital worksheets and more product creation using tools such as Adobe Slate or Storehouse. It means more appropriate use of authentic simulations and less use of web-based textbooks.

It means that we need to use the SAMR model and documents such as this alignment of tools with thinking skills to purposefully plan for tech that supports learning goals rather than the other way around.

Aditi’s chart is a good reminder for all of us. Tech is a tool. Not the end in mind.



8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Good blog post, Glenn. I learned about the SAMR model two years ago while doing an educational technology certificate. The table you have in your post is on my bulletin board. It’s a handy little chart and reminder. I have had a few disagreements with teachers over the years when we talk about integrating vs. using technology. This table and the SAMR model are excellent. Good luck with your presentation.

    February 7, 2016
    • glennw #

      Thanks for the quick comment! I agree – having the chart and SAMR in plain sight help those sorts of conversations go a little easier. It’s seems to usually be that teachers haven’t really thought about the difference before.

      As in “I have my kids use this tool or go to this website so I am integrating tech” rather than thinking deeply about how and why the tool or site is being used.

      Thanks – still working to finish the presentation but keep you fingers crossed.


      February 7, 2016
  2. Glenn. I am deeply interested in this Field, currently I am working for two Languages teachers The idea is integration of Technology in their classes, regarding learning Languages there are many things to do (cellphone apps, audio, videos, podcast, etc) SAMR is new for me but I have found it very useful. I will apply intermediately Thanks for sharing
    Norma Huerta/ Iowa City

    February 16, 2016
    • glennw #


      Thanks for the comment. Good luck as you begin to use it!


      February 17, 2016

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