ISTE asks…what do you need to effectively integrate tech in your school?

ISTE has established itself as the go-to place for all things tech-related, and its guidance on leveraging technology for learning is as robust as its many other resources.  It outlines fourteen different elements that are critical to success with tech integration–two of which our school does well:

Equitable Access and Empowered Leaders

Students work on stop-motion videos in Biology

Equitable Access: All students, teachers, staff and school leaders have robust and reliable connectivity and access to current and emerging technologies and digital resources.

As part of our Lancer One program, every student in our school is issued an iPad.  Indeed, one of the original goals of the Lancer One program was equity: all learners were to have equal access to technology.  In a rural school district, where diversity comes in the form of socio-economic separation, the importance of this belief cannot be overstated.  We wanted our students to be able to access learning opportunities anytime and anywhere, and having devices in hand was imperative.  With a supportive community who were able to recognize a budget surplus as an opportunity, we were able to make it happen, and with a lot of work on infrastructure, we were able to build the internal supports to uphold it.

Empowered Leaders: Stakeholders at every level are empowered to be leaders in effecting change.

I appreciate how ISTE recognizes that “leaders” can be any stakeholders.  This is why I think we succeed in this element.  Our teachers are empowered through a culture of opportunity and celebration–that is, we encourage teachers to share their successes and we celebrate them.  (Check out #LamoilleLearns for a few examples!)  Our students lead the way in groups like YATST, Environmental Club, and A World of Difference–effecting change in the realm of technology and beyond.

While every school has bright spots, there are also some that could use some shining.  I think Implementation Planning is ours.  ISTE describes this as,  “All stakeholders follow a systematic plan aligned with a shared vision for school effectiveness and student learning through the infusion of information and communication technology (ICT) and digital learning resources.”  We have some incredibly bright spots–teachers who are lighting it up daily with innovative use of technology to meet the needs of our learners–but there need to be more.  As George Couros so often reminds us, it’s about relationships, and building those with reluctant teachers is a step in the right direction.  As the tech integrationist, I’ve started with that and have continued to encourage those who risk.  It’s about helping teachers keep what’s working and update what’s not–without judgement.

Enemy of trust and building relationships

One of the things I noticed in ISTE’s Lead & Transform Diagnostic Tool was the number of times they referenced some kind of incentive for teachers.  While I spend most of my time trying to bribe teachers with lunch in order to show them a tool, this survey started me thinking more seriously about compensation.  Food is great; badges are better, but money?  Now you’re talking.  Maybe that’s where the magic incentive lies, and perhaps it’s where more school districts should begin planning their PD budgets.  If funds were budgeted to compensate teachers for taking the time to learn these new tools on their own, perhaps more teachers would do it.

DT inservice - 2 (2)
$$$: Maybe more teachers would look this happy to be learning?

Or, what if we banded together (speaking for smaller school districts) and offered up a partnership with some of the big leagues to host PD?  Beekmantown School District had great success with their recent Explore EDU event that paired classroom visits with panel discussions.  While traveling to far off places for conferences isn’t always possible, perhaps we ought to start considering bringing more to us.

Big ideas…thanks to ISTE for providing the inspiration to begin dreaming about a school that meets all of the essential elements!


Published by

Lori Lisai

educator, arts enthusiast, runner, 2015 Rowland Fellow, and inspiration junkie cannonballing transformative classroom practice and life in general

7 thoughts on “ISTE asks…what do you need to effectively integrate tech in your school?”

  1. I thought about that compensation piece too when I was reading through the critical elements. I would be curious to know if money was a big motivating factor as an incentive; I am not sure that it would be for some. I also wonder if incentivizing something like tech integration, would cause some insincere participation that misses the point of the goal. I look at our PATH to Wellness program through VEHI like this. People participate to get money, but don’t take the challenge all that seriously. Tricky.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great connection, Kristine! I’ve seen that same thing play out at our school. Good intentions, but ultimately miss the mark. Must address individuals, and allow for flexibility to do so.


  2. I’m not feeling that incentive has to be money! As a tech integrationist I tried to use my ‘relationships building’ with individual teachers to learn more about that motivates them. For some people it is “keeping up the the guy next door”, for others it is $, for others its’ being able to attend a national conference, for others its a prize for their kids or for a special kid. The only constant I found was that once’s man incentive is NOT always an incentive for others.


  3. Lori, your suggestion to have more PD brought to the teachers is one I strongly agree with! I agree that if schools team up and give opportunities for PD shared between several schools the cost in both money and time can be greatly reduced, and the benefits can be shared with a greater number of educators. Perhaps in the future a rotation throughout the state could be organised where PD opportunities are offered at different hosting schools periodically throughout the year and discounts with organisations/experts could be negotiated for having several workshops/presentations during a week at different schools within the state.


  4. Sadly, if you look at any business anywhere, the motivation is usually money, but as educators, I think that people have the power to shift the way they think through some proper guidance. Great post. Love the pictures and details!


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