The role of a technology integration specialist (TIS) has changed and grown over the last several years as schools move towards a more digital setting. TIS in my understanding and experience are to be used as tools to increase technology tools in classrooms and to ensure the tools are being used for the right purposes. This is the first course I am taking that focuses on what a TIS is so I am excited to learn more in depth what a TIS does.
Students and teachers today are from two different worlds. Teachers have generally grown up without using technology 24/7. Students on the other hand, have grown up attached to technology. It's almost like vital organ they need. I think this is something that causes something of a disconnect between teachers and students. Teachers can't understand why students can't seem to live without technology, and students can't seem to understand how teachers can or why teachers expect students to be able to live without technology.
The reality is that "technology is students' connection to the world" and technology isn't going anywhere. Students today are connected through texting, social media such as facebook, Reddit, Instagram, Snapchat, YikYak, Youtube clips, etc. They see a world that is larger than the world teachers saw when they were in school. Students feel a need to remain connected. For students, technology tools can be a way to increase student engagement. Oftentimes, schools require students to "power down" once they get to school. They go through the school day without technology and then become alert and active at 3:00 when the bell rings for dismissal and they can "power on". It's interesting to see this occurring with our students. Students need to be taught how to use technology appropriately in school and when it's okay and not okay to use technology. Our students are still learning and they need teachers to guide them through.
More often than not, schools and districts purchase technology and place it in the hands of teachers expecting teachers to integrate that technology without any problem. Teachers look at the technology they are handed and either try to integrate it to the best of their ability, or they become lost, overwhelmed, and frustrated that the technology gets put in a corner somewhere to collect dust. Teachers are not opposed to technology integration. Teachers are invested in the students' education. If teachers have ample time to learn how to utilize the technology tool, collaborate with colleagues to integrate the tool, and become comfortable with the tool, then the tool becomes valuable within the classroom. Teachers need to see the value in the technology. My former principal frequently said "I don't have all the answers, but collectively, we have all the answers". Teachers need to collaborate with other teachers in their content areas and outside their content areas. Teachers need to open the door to other teachers so that teachers may see technology tools in action. Teachers also need to understand and embrace the idea that their students will know more than they do when it comes to technology. Teachers need to allow students to teach them how to use technology.