Digital Overload

This past week I attended a Discovery Education Professional Development (PD). Wake County has partnered with Discovery Education to provide PD to four staff from each school over 3 years. This will be my third year attending and our focus for the year is “Leading the Transition”. After we attend the PD we return to school and present to our staff.

This past session was centered around the Technology Integration Matrix (TIM). The TIM provides teachers a framework for integrating technology. TIM is not used to evaluate teachers but rather gives videos and classroom examples for each part of the matrix. I enjoyed the direct examples from a variety of grade levels and the ideas that were presented in each part of the TIM.

Here is a screenshot of the TIM:

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 7.48.02 AM

The columns of the TIM define the levels of technology integration (entry, adoption, adaption, infusion, transformation) and the rows define the characteristics (active, collaborative, constructive, authentic, goal-directed). Each section has videos for Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies. Here is an example of a Social Studies video in the Constructive Learning – Infusion Level, the students are creating a new country on an existing continent.

We were given time to explore the videos and resources on the TIM, and this is when the digital overload began. There are so many resources on the internet for our students to use in the classroom. We are moving away from asking students to put away their cellphones and schools are encouraging BYOD (bring your own device). All of the technology out there can change a classroom and enhance the students learning, but as a teacher I have a hard time deciding where to start. I can/do spend hours looking through technology options for my classroom and thinking about ways to integrate the technology. With limited resources at my school, I then have to tailor the lesson to the technology in my classroom and decide which activities will be best for my students.

After reviewing the TIM, I was excited to start planning. The TIM gave me a new perspective on the use of technology. The matrix took into account that at times teachers have to use technology in the entry level to teach students. We have to use videos to provide background knowledge. I then started to think about the background knowledge that we provide our students. Do all students have to sit through introduction lessons? Students come to school with a range of background knowledge and classroom behaviors can spike when students become bored.

At the training i took interest in the social bookmarking service symbaloo. I started to think about ways to use this website as a student hub of information. Give my students the ownership to learn the information for the topic and then have a central place to keep the information. Our social studies unit focuses on Historical Figures, I found a symbaloo in the gallery that was created with videos and informational on many different historical figures. I could give this to my students and they could pick and choose who they wanted to research. Giving the ownership and choice to my students could create more opportunities for individualized learning in the classroom.

All of these resources and ideas for technology integration lead me to my digital overload. I am continuously asking myself

  • Can my students use the technology?
  • How long will it take to teach them?
  • What makes sense to use?
  • How much time will the technology units take?

I could continue to ask the questions, but at some point I need to answer the questions by putting these technology practices into my classroom and observe my students. Do you ever feel the digital overload?


One thought on “Digital Overload

  1. Cara, great post! You hit the nail on the head with the “digital overload” description. One thing that our technology specialist said that encouraged me was that if you overteach in the beginning, the students often don’t need much assistance when using the app later on. While it has taken me some precious teaching time to teach apps, I’m optimistic that it will pay off in the long run. Have you tried projecting the iPad on the screen to teach the apps? I’ve found that this has been helpful and keeps their attention better than if I stand up holding an iPad. I have never heard of TIM and am looking forward to checking out the videos and seeing how I can use it in my room. Thanks for sharing!


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