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Technology Integration vs. Technology Infusion: What’s the Difference?

Considering the ramped-up emphasis on online and remote learning, deans, department chairs, and their faculty are taking a new look at learning goals and related curricula in preparation programs to assure teacher candidates are prepared to effectively use technology for teaching and learning. Programs can no longer claim that a single “techie” faculty member or a stand-alone course on “ed tech” will provide teacher candidates with the knowledge and skills they need to be proficient with integrating technology into the learning experiences they plan. 

The COVID-19 pandemic we have all experienced has clearly illustrated the need to address technology integration in more depth than siloed approaches could ever provide. An infusion approach, where technology is addressed throughout an entire teacher preparation program—from beginning to end—brings methods courses, practica, student teaching, and even liberal arts and sciences content faculty and PK-12 mentors into this framework for scaffolding candidate development. 

But, wait. Just to be clear—What is the difference between integrating technology and infusing technology?

Teresa Foulger, associate professor of educational technology from Arizona State University, explains the difference in a new book, Championing Technology Infusion in Teacher Preparation: A Framework for Supporting Future Educators (Borthwick, Foulger, & Graziano, 2020):

Technology Integration. Any learning experience where technology is seamlessly used by educators (PK–20) and/or learners within the context of a learning  process and in a manner that enhances the experience and/or outcome in some way(s). A PK–12 example of technology integration might include sixth graders using probes during their science class to import data to a spreadsheet, then analyzing the data and generating a bar graph to report their findings.  An example of technology integration in a preparation program might include teacher candidates enrolled in a language arts methods course working in small groups to research reading strategies, then compiling and sharing best practices with their classmates through a digital presentation.

Technology Infusion. A program-deep and program-wide approach within a teacher preparation program to help teacher candidates learn how to leverage technology in their future teaching (i.e., in PK–12 classrooms). Throughout an infused program, teacher candidates experience:

    • a course-specific and developmentally appropriate technology integration curriculum (e.g., as part of a science methods course, candidates learn how to effectively use probes in their PK–12 science classroom), 
    • technology integration models that emulate best practices (e.g., teaching strategies of their instructors, PK–12 mentors who excel with technology integration in the classroom, and video-based PK–12 teaching scenarios that showcase the application of technology integration theory and practice), and
    • developmentally appropriate and iterative practice, feedback, and reflection about teaching with technology (e.g., lesson planning exercises, practice teaching experiences, formal practicums, and student teaching).  (Foulger, 2020, p. 6)

Understanding the facets of technology infusion in the context of teacher preparation has been the focus of preconference workshops organized the past three years by AACTE’s Committee on Innovation and Technology. Topics addressed in the workshops included program-deep and program-wide learning expectations including iterative practice with technology applications by teacher candidates, faculty development, school-university relationships, and sustainability for change through college-level decision-making and inter-agency collaboration at the local, state, and national levels. Content and conversations at the AACTE preconference workshops led to the development of an edited book focused on technology infusion in teacher preparation that was subsequently recommended by Lynn Gangone, president and CEO of AACTE, as:

“a great combination of theory and practice, as well as guideposts for how leaders can create the kind of systems change that allows for technology to be integrated in teacher ed programs.”

Authors of chapters in Championing Technology Infusion in Teacher Preparation share their expertise in a comprehensive and cohesive approach to tackling the complexity of an infusion approach. Two chapters in the book specifically describe outcomes of AACTE initiatives, including the development of the TPACK Leadership Diagnostic Tool (Graziano, Herring, Carpenter, Smaldino, & Finsness, 2017) and the 10 proclamations issued in AACTE’s report entitled A Pivot Toward Clinical Practice, Its Lexicon, and the Renewal of Teacher Education (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 2018).

Many contributors to the book have served as chairs and/or members of the AACTE Committee on Technology and Innovation, including: Arlene Borthwick, Jon Clausen, Denise Crawford-Schmidt, Kevin Graziano, Liz Kolb, Michael McVey, Punya Mishra, and David Slykhuis. In addition, Seth Parsons and Audra Parker have been active participants in AACTE’s work related to clinical practice, serving on AACTE’s Clinical Practice Commission. 

As colleges of education work hard to adjust their teaching and learning models, technology cannot be viewed as an option or add on, but must be seen as a necessity across the curriculum. With close links to AACTE’s recent work, the new book, Championing Technology Infusion in Teacher Preparation, is designed to support faculty and administrators as they review and redesign their teacher education programs and college-level support for candidates, faculty, and PK-12 school partners. Taking a book-study approach (a chapter a month, for example) can provide thoughtful discussion and systematic planning for a college-specific framework for supporting future educators. With the level of receptiveness to technology integration being at a high, there is no better time for leaders—the proponents of educational technology in preparation programs—to champion an infused approach!

 

References

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, Clinical Practice Commission. (2018). A pivot toward clinical practice, its lexicon, and the renewal of teacher education. bit.ly/2UsyQp2

Borthwick, A. C., Foulger, T. S., & Graziano, K. J. (Eds.). (2020). Championing Technology Infusion in Teacher Preparation: A Framework for Supporting Future Educators. Portland, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

Foulger, T. S. (2020). Design considerations for technology-infused teacher preparation programs. In A.C. Borthwick, T. S. Foulger, & K. J. Graziano (Eds.), Championing Technology Infusion in Teacher Preparation: A Framework for Supporting Future Educators (pp. 3-28). Portland, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

Graziano, K. J., Herring, M. C., Carpenter, J. P., Smaldino, S., & Finsness, E. S. (2017). A TPACK diagnostic tool for teacher education leaders. TechTrends, 61(4), 372-379.

Additional Information on the TPACK Leadership Diagnostic Tool

 Clausen, J. M., Finsness, E. S., Borthwick, A. C., Graziano, K. J., Carpenter, J. P., & Herring, M. C. (2019). TPACK Leadership Diagnostic Tool: Adoption and Implementation by Teacher Education Leaders. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 35(1), 54-72. https://doi.org/10.1080/21532974.2018.1537818. 

Arlene C. Borthwick is professor emeritus, National College of Education, National Louis University in Chicago, where she served as associate dean from 2010-18. She has served as the chair of AACTE’s Committee on Innovation and Technology, member of the ISTE Board of Directors, and past president of ISTE’s SIG for Teacher Educators. She received the ISTE “Making IT Happen” award in 2008. Borthwick can be contacted at aborthwick@nl.edu.

Teresa S. Foulger is an associate professor of educational technology and program coordinator for educational studies in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. Foulger has served as the president of the Teacher Education Network for the International Society for Technology in Education and currently serves as the co-chair of the TPACK Special Interest Group for the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education. She is co-author of the Teacher Educator Technology Competencies (TETCs) (2017). Foulger can be contacted at Teresa.Foulger@asu.edu.   

Kevin J. Graziano is a professor of teacher education in the School of Education at Nevada State College. He is the chair of the Consultative Council for the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE), the former chair of AACTE’s Committee on Innovation and Technology, and the former co-chair of the SITE’s mobile learning SIG. He is co-author of the Teacher Educator Technology Competencies (TETCs) (2017). Graziano can be reached at: kevin.graziano@nsc.edu.


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Arlene Borthwick

National Louis University

Teresa Foulger

Arizona State University

Kevin Graziano

Nevada State College

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