Research Questions for Integrating Technology by pxg20930

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									                     Out of a Box… Integrating Technology Effectively

                                                    Kelly A. Luscre
                                               Valdosta State University
                                                     United States
                                               kellyluscre@cobbk12.org


                  Abstract: The purpose of this Action Research project was to find out if the implementation of PICASSO
                  (Portal Integrated Curriculum, Assessment, and Student Services Operation) would increase the level of
                  technology integration and effectiveness of teachers at the elementary school research site. Teachers were
                  trained on the Internet-based management site and were asked to use the system to extend their level of
                  technology integration into their curriculum. Randomly selected teachers documented their use of technology
                  in the classroom and lab environment. Teachers documented dates, times, specific technology, and to what
                  extent PICASSO was used. By incorporating the use of the program, teachers integrated technology into the
                  curriculum, which made learning more meaningful because they taught using the QCC’s (Quality Core
                  Curriculum) and resources provided by PICASSO. Teachers took pre and post LoTi (Level of Technology
                  Integration) questionnaires and data showed that there was a significant increase in several areas of the
                  survey. Increases were also noted in computer usage time over 20% during the course of the intervention.
                  The results of the project demonstrated that the use of PICASSO was a successful tool in assisting teachers
                  during planning and implementing technology related lessons into their curriculum. Further use of the
                  program will be used and teachers will continue to train as the program gets more sophisticated.



                                                    Introduction

Background

           The students of today live in a world that is totally interactive, communication intensive, and knowledge
based (ISTE, 2003). These children are standard bearers in the technological revolution, having never known
anything else. As educators, we must learn to use the tools that students use daily as educational resources. The
educational model should be appropriate for information driven society; children must be prepared for a future of
unforeseeable and rapid change (Yildrim, 2000).
           The growing gap between schools and the rest of the world is real. The increasing persuasiveness and
vitality of technology is changing the expectations of our children and their world perspective. Careful planning and
implementation of technology, could lead to significantly improved educational reform. Research has shown that
schools of today should look dramatically different from those we attended (Driscoll, 2002). By planning carefully,
bringing other teachers along with us, and implementing new technology wisely, together with other needed
reforms, learning can be dramatically improved (ISTE, 2003).
           The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), signed on January 8, 2002 by President George W. Bush, gives
specific guidelines for districts, schools, and teachers for students to achieve. Several standards must be met by the
year 2013, many of them focusing on technology integration (U.S. Department of Education, 2003). It is more
important than ever for educators to further the knowledge of students at any grade level using technology.
           There is no single approach to technology implementation and no one system that is perfect for all school
districts. Effective use of technology ultimately depends on the knowledge and skills of the teachers, the person with
the greatest impact on the classroom environment (Robertson, 2003).
           The research site for this study was an elementary school located in middle to upper-middle class
community. During the past five years, this school implemented many programs and activities to improve student
achievement and school climate. One of the School Improvement Action Plan (SIAP) goals in 2004 was to address
the integration of writing and technology into all curriculum areas to improve student achievement. The school
committed to providing necessary services for all students to increase learning. In the area of technology, one of the
major issues faced is how quickly technology changes and improves. Teachers must strive to meet the challenges of
ever changing technology. This school’s expectation was to implement instructional strategies that would improve
teachers’ ability to integrate technology into the curriculum on a meaningful and frequent basis.
Purpose

          In the state of Georgia, teachers are mandated to take a 50-hour professional staff development technology
training course. As a teacher at my school, I was asked to help our school achieve county and school wide goals that
are directly impacted by the NCLB Act. One of my responsibilities was to redeliver the teacher technology training
to 26 faculty members. After teaching the course, I realized that although teachers were taking the class, the majority
of these teachers were not adopting what they had learned into their instruction. I then decided that finding out a way
to help them integrate effectively would be a good idea for an action research project.
          Teachers in Cobb County were asked to take an informal Internet-based assessment that scored each
individual as to his or her level of technology integration. Each teacher received a score at the beginning of the
2003-2004 school year as well as recommendations as to how to increase the level for more valuable integration.
The survey gave each educator a range of their current level of technology integration was at that point. The ranges
have been defined as zero, explained as the non use of technology in the classroom to a six, characterized as
refinement technology defined as a process, product, or tool to help student solve authentic problems related to an
identified real world problem or issue (Moersch, 1999).
          Using the results of the initial survey, goals were created for faculty members to use more technology in the
classroom for effective instruction. In order to help achieve the goal throughout the district, the county created an
Internet-based management system for teachers, parents, and student to ensure effective integration is happening in
and out of the classroom. The county promotes it as a one-stop place where educators, parents, and students can
access an array of information. More specifically, PICASSO provides a single point of access for the Curriculum
and Student Information applications needed on a daily basis. PICASSO is divided into four distinct areas: Portal
Home, Curriculum and Instruction, Assessment, and Student Systems Operations. PICASSO is updated on a regular
basis with new content in order to provide the latest information available to teach students and inform parents
(Cobb County, 2003). Therefore, the purpose of this Action Research was to examine the impact of using the county
wide Internet-based management tool, PICASSO, to increase teachers’ level of technology integration into the
curriculum.
          The rationale of the action research investigated the effect of using PICASSO on teacher technology
integration into instruction and the elementary curriculum. I was interested in finding out what specific features of
PICASSO are most effective for integrating technology into the curriculum and helping teachers raise their level.
This action research explored to what extent a teachers’ use of PICASSO correlated with their technology
integration level, and how teachers felt about the use of PICASSO for integrating technology into curriculum.
Several research questions were proposed and data collection methods were utilized in order to help in answering
the following questions.

Research Questions

          1. What is the effect of using an Internet-based management system, PICASSO, on teacher technology
integration into instruction and the elementary curriculum?
          2. What specific features of PICASSO are most effective for integrating technology into the curriculum to
impact student achievement and raise teachers’ integration level?
          3. To what extent does teachers’ use of the PICASSO management system correlate with the Level of
Technology Integration score?
          4. How do teachers feel about the use of PICASSO for integrating technology into instruction and the
elementary curriculum?

Methods
Setting and Participants

The action research project took place in a public, suburban elementary school near Atlanta, Georgia. Since this
action research complimented the school’s SIAP, it was embraced by the administration and faculty. There are
41instructional teachers in the building and all of them were asked to participate. When the initial survey was given
last May, only 32 teachers completed the survey. One of the goals for the project was to get everyone to take the
survey and to adopt the PICASSO program. Teachers were given Faculty Consent Forms and told that there would
be no negative repercussions from participating in this Action Research Project. Out of the 41 instructional teachers,
38 agreed and completed the consent forms for participation in the research project. The active participates were all
female with the exception of one male gifted teacher.

Intervention – PICASSO

          The results from the initial survey were used as baseline data. PICASSO was initially introduced to the
faculty members on January 6, 2004. Teachers were trained on PICASSO and the different features of the systems.
Each teacher was asked to document their computer use time on a computer logs. The documentation included dates,
times and what specific technology was used. Teachers were also asked to record their use of PICASSO: how they
used it and what specific features they used during each lesson. State and National Curriculum’s are provided on the
site, so teachers were asked to document the use of PICASSO in their lesson plans as it relates to the Quality Core
Curriculum.
          Teachers attended additional training on PICASSO on several different occasions. The first training held
was to familiarize the faculty on the site and let them get a feel for the program. Additional faculty meetings were
held to work with the teachers training them how to effectively integrate different technology practices into their
curriculum. Classroom and computer lab observations were completed to see where and how technology based
lessons were being utilized. Teachers were surveyed to find out where they were in their technology
implementation. Training was presented using PowerPoint and hands on lessons to teach the faculty how to use
PICASSO to its fullest extent.

Data Collection

         For the purpose of this action research, teachers from grades 3-5 were interviewed, observed, and surveyed.
Observation rubrics were used during classroom lessons to show to what extent teachers were using technology in
an instructional setting. Teachers were also asked to complete a Teacher Self Assessment Rubric that was used to
find out what they believed to be their level of technology integration.
         After PICASSO training, faculty members were interviewed to determine what they believed was most
beneficial about PICASSO and what could be improved. Computer logs were analyzed to ascertain what lessons
were being taught in the Computer Lab and what features of PICASSO teachers were using during their lab and
planning time.

Procedures

         In May 2003, the first survey was given to faculty members and these results were used as pre intervention
baseline data (Table 2). The survey was given again after the PICASSO training and implementation. Faculty
members were interviewed regarding their feelings and thoughts on PICASSO. Computer logs were completed to
see exactly what the teachers were using in the lab during computer instructional time. The logs were evaluated to
determine which features of PICASSO were being used in the implementation of technology as an instructional tool.
         Teachers trained on PICASSO on three different occasions to learn the system, the features available to
them for instructional purposes, and how to implement state wide QCC’s. After the training, teachers were asked to
implement a variety of the features and determine which ones, if any were valuable to them in their instructional
capacity. Since one of the SIAP goals of the school is to have each teacher implementing technology into their
curriculum, the lab logs were very important in determining what was successful and most helpful.

Results
Observations

          After the faculty received training on the PICASSO program and full implementation begun, I observed
nine different teachers in grades 3, 4, and 5 using technology in the computer lab setting. An Observation and
Lesson Plan Evaluation Rubric (Table 1) was used to observe and record notes during the observations. The
assessment used was to determine if a teacher was at an introductory, intermediate, or proficient level in several
areas of technology instruction. The nine teachers that I observed were all at varying stages of technology
integration. From the observation, I noted that seven of the nine were able to locate and adapt lessons based upon
best practices and two of them were able to use analyzed research to design their technology lesson accordingly. The
lessons being taught during the observation were varied and the teachers used appropriate content of QCC’s and
implemented a variety of technology, not exclusively just the computer and Internet. Each of the teachers
demonstrated the ability to create and maintain effective learning environments and all of them used PICASSO
during their lesson. Each teacher employed PICASSO at a different level and used different features. All nine of the
teachers used PICASSO to locate specific QCC’s in order to use the technology effectively. Three of the teachers
demonstrated instruction that allowed for frequent student/teacher interaction. One teacher allowed the student to
model a lesson to the class and two other teachers used peer helpers to assist those students who needed more
assistance using the equipment. A more detailed description of the findings can be found in Table 1 below.

Table 1
Researchers Observation

                         Assessment                              Introductory   Intermediate        Proficient

Analyzes best practices and research findings                         0              7                  2
Considers content to be taught and selects the best                   2              6                  1
technology resources to support, manage and enhance
learning
Identifies student learning styles and determines appropriate         0              8                  1
resources
Demonstrates ability to create and maintain effective learning        0              6                  3
environments using computers based technology
Demonstrates knowledge of instructional delivery                      0              5                  5
Demonstrates knowledge of privacy security and safety                 5              2                  2
issues


Instrument – Level of Technology Integration Survey

         The survey was used as a pre and post-test instrument to determine whether the implementation of
PICASSO into technology instruction would in fact impact a teacher’s level of technology integration. The results of
the pre and post-test show that after the implementation of PICASSO, teachers’ Level of Technology Integration
(LOTI) did increase in the areas of technology integration. At the lower LOTI levels, the post-test results
demonstrate that teachers were using technology more in their instruction and while applying curriculum standards.

Table 2

Level of Technology Integration Survey Results
Level of Technology Integration                                      % of Faculty Pre     % of Faculty
                                                                     PICASSO              Post PICASSO
                                                                     implementation       implementation)
Level 0                                                              25%                  0%
There is no visible evidence of computer access or instructional
use of computers in the classroom.
Level 1                                                              13%                  10%
Available classroom computer(s) are used primarily for teacher
productivity (e.g., email, word processing, grading programs)
Level 2                                                              19%                  13%
Student technology projects (e.g., designing web pages, research
via the Internet, creating multimedia presentations) focus on
lower levels of student cognition.
Level 3                                                              13%                  17%
Tool-based applications (e.g., graphing, concept-mapping) are
primarily used by students for analyzing data, making inferences,
and drawing conclusions.
Level 4a                                                             25%                  43%
The use of outside resources and/or interventions aid the teacher
in developing challenging learning experiences using available
classroom computers (e.g., PICASSO)

Level 4b                                                              3%                   12%
Teachers can readily design learning experiences with no outside
assistance that empower students to identify and solve authentic
problems using technology
Level 5                                                               3%                   5%
Teachers actively elicit technology from outside entities to
expand student experiences directed at problem-solving, issues
resolution, and student action
Level 6                                                               0%                   0%
Computers provide a seamless and almost transparent medium for
information     queries,    problem-solving,   and/or   product
development

Instrument – Computer lab logs

          Computer lab usage was documented from February 2, 2004 – March 1, 2004. Records were collected to
determine the date, time, lesson taught, and what PICASSO features were used during technology class time and
computer lab time. The lab was used 67 hours and the lap top carts were used for 56 hours during the research time
period. This accounts for a total of 123 hours of instructional technology time spent in grades 3-5 for the month.
Using previous log information, data showed that in the month of January 2004 (prior to PICASSO
implementation), computers were used 98 hours. The computer usage increased 20% during the research time
period. For this action research, I was most interested in what features teachers were using from PICASSO to help
implement their technology lessons. Data was collected as to what features of PICASSO were used and the table
below shows that out of 42 data collection dates every teacher used the PICASSO home page which is predictable
because to use PICASSO you must start at the home page. Curriculum and Instruction areas were the next most used
features. Teachers were using the content standards pages as well as finding information regarding the state QCC’s
in this area. Lesson plans and resources for teaching technology lessons were also used frequently by the teachers
that were utilizing PICASSO. The areas used least were the exemplary unit’s page and the online grade book. The
possible reason for the infrequent use is that the exemplary units’ page is currently under construction and the online
grade book is unavailable to elementary teachers at this time.
Table 3

Picasso Feature Usage
Picasso Feature Used                                                              # of times used during 42
                                                                                  data collection dates
Home – discussion, information or guidance concerning the management site         42
Curriculum and Instruction – Content Standards, Georgia Learning                  39
Connections, QCC’s

Curriculum and Instruction – Lesson Plans                                         40

Curriculum and Instruction – Exemplary Units                                      3

Curriculum and Instruction – Resources                                            32

Assessment – Performance Series (online testing)                                  19

Assessment – Reports                                                              22

Student System Operations – Attendance                                            42

Student System Operation – Online Grade book                                      0


Interviews

          After the PICASSO training and intervention, twenty teachers were interviewed to determine their attitudes
towards the new web based program. Out of the twenty interviewees, each one responded to the question regarding
why PICASSO was created for Cobb County by replying that their understanding was that it was implemented to
provide a “one-stop shop” for teachers, administrators, and parents to access information regarding education in
Cobb County. Other comments made by teachers were that PICASSO provides resources related to what is to be
taught and assisting teachers in emphasizing power standards to eliminate teaching items that are not apart of
Georgia QCC’s.
          When asked if PICASSO will help to them as educators, 17 out of the 20 responded that it would be
beneficial because PICASSO helps with planning and knowing what the county expects of them. Several of the
teachers responded that it would be a timesaver because they can go to one spot to locate standards, lesson plans,
and external links to assist them in their teaching. Only three teachers felt that PICASSO would not necessarily be
beneficial to them. These teachers were the gifted teacher and the art teacher. They stated that PICASSSO would not
be helpful to them because their standards are different and they are required to teach specific instructional units not
included in PICASSO.
          Interviewees were also asked if they believed the program would impact teacher use of technology in the
classroom and if so, how will it impact education. 12 of the 20 responses stated that PICASSO would impact teacher
use of technology because the county and the school require its implementation. Several teachers admitted that they
had already incorporated more technology due to PICASSO links. One teacher stated that the lesson plan and
resource website were already planned and organized according to standards which saved her time and energy. All
she had to do was implement the lesson. The other eight respondents indicated that PICASSO was another push
from the county to add more to the teachers’ workload, but its required use would force teachers to use more
technology. All respondents stated that continued training in implementing technology in the classroom would be
needed.
          Respondents were also asked about the ease and features of PICASSO. 14 of the 20 interviewees stated that
PICASSO was easy to use, teacher friendly, and easily accessible off the county home page. The other six teachers
felt that PICASSO was not as easy to use. They maintained that links were difficult to find, and the unfamiliarity of
the program and lack of time to discover led to more work than time savings.
All of the respondents felt that the Curriculum & Instruction features, curriculum standards, and external lesson plan
links were the most beneficial. The online Grade book will be available to elementary teachers next school year, but
several teachers mentioned that they were not looking forward to that aspect of PICASSO because they felt that it is
inappropriate to list grades on the Internet for K-5 students.
         When asked how to improve PICASSO, the only suggestion made by the majority of the participants were
to include a content section on the home page to make the information easier to access. Out of the 20 educators
interviewed, 18 did say that it has affected their technology integration. Most think the reason it has been affected is
because they are being required to use it, other said that it does provide support and ideas for teachers. One teacher
said that the specific lesson plans which include the latest information with technology suggestions made the
technology more inviting to her and the lesson better for her students.

Discussion

          The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of utilization of a web based Curriculum Management
System, PICASSO on teacher technology integration. I wanted to find out what effect PICASSO has on teacher
technology integration into curriculum. Faculty interviews, student surveys, computer logs, and observations were
used to determine the effects.
          In order to answer the research questions regarding the use of PICASSO and its effect teacher technology
integration into instruction and the elementary curriculum; I used a variety of data collection methods. Faculty
interviews, teacher self-assessment, computer logs and teacher observations. According to the results of the
computer log usage, data showed that technology usage was increased by 20% from the previous month. During
interviews, every teacher stated that PICASSO would have a positive effect on the use of technology into the
curriculum. Although some felt that it would be solely because it was being required, but nonetheless, technology
use would be directly affected. During the observations, it was noted that teachers were using PICASSO and
implementing technology rich lessons into their teaching. Students were engaged in activities that directly reflected
QCC’s; goals and objectives appropriate to their grade level and subject area.
          There are several features of PICASSO that teachers use more frequently and think are more helpful than
others. Teachers used the Portal Home page almost daily in order to gain access to the site components. Teachers
also used the Curriculum and Instruction section of the site for finding content standards, Georgia Learning
Connections and QCC’s for each grade and subject area. The areas least used were the Curriculum & Instruction –
Exemplary Units and the Online Grade Book. Because the exemplary units section is not completed and the online
grade book is unavailable to elementary teachers at this time, this result was not surprising. Since teachers are
required to use PICASSO for finding and implementing technology rich lessons, teacher technology integration is
increasing. Teachers are using tested sites and information already deemed appropriate for technology integration.
          The Level of Technology Integration survey was given to teachers prior to PICASSO implementation and
then again as a post-test to the intervention. Teachers made remarkable progress in their levels. One of the goals for
the project was to have teachers at the 0 level (non-use) to move from 25% of the staff to 0%, and that goal was
clearly achieved. The purpose of the action research was to see if the implementation of PICASSO would lead to
improvement of technology integration by teachers. The information gathered from the pre and post-tests do show
that the implementation of PICASSO did contribute to teachers using technology more effectively in the curriculum.
          Out of the twenty teacher’s interviewed, the majority of them did sense that PICASSO would have a
positive impact on technology integration. Because teachers are always pressed for time and there is never enough
of it, some of the teachers felt that adding PICASSO would have a negative impact. During interviews, several
teachers mentioned that they felt negatively towards the requirement of having to use PICASSO during their lesson
planning and showing how they implement technology. The perception was that they were being forced to do yet
another thing without the time to really learn and master the PICASSO program.

Incidental Findings

       Although not a part of the study, one area I found interesting was the increase in time spent using the
computer. A possible reason for the 20% increase is the required use of PICASSO and a new school policy that
PICASSO integration must be documented into weekly lesson plans.

Limitations

         The first limitation to this study was the actual time allotted for the intervention. I would have liked to
extend the time to see more results and PICASSO usage. I believe that with more training and as the teacher become
more comfortable with the site, they will utilize it more and find it beneficial to their technology instruction.
Another limitation to consider is the issue of how quickly technology changes and improves. Teachers need to strive
to meet the challenges of the ever changing technology and they need the time to experiment and work with
different means of technology in their classrooms.

Implications

          According to all of the results of the study, PICASSO has helped teachers to integrate technology into the
curriculum more effectively. The project was proposed and implemented at the research site to help faculty members
identify whether or not PICASSO would impact technology integration performance. The research does represent
positive results showing that the staff is implementing technology on a regular basis using PICASSO to plan and
integrate technology into their lessons. Although the study did reflect a successful results and teachers are
integrating technology more frequently and effectively, it must be communicated that some teachers do have a
negative attitude towards PICASSO. Several teachers stated that they believe it is one more thing added to what they
already do and it is not a time saver, but creates more work.

Future Action Planning and Conclusion

         The result of the Action Research Project was delivered to the staff during a monthly “Rally Meeting.” I
presented the results and comments to the staff, administration, and to the Area Supervisor. The outcomes of
PICASSO usage results were sent to the county Special Curriculum Supervisor who is responsible for the entire
execution of the PICASSO project. The county is committed to updating the site on a daily basis so that links,
resources, standards, and curriculum are consistently restructured as needed.
         Faculty and staff will continue to be trained and given time to work with PICASSO to help ease the tension
that some teachers expressed about adding more work. In Cobb County, there are several “Early Release” dates that
we are given for staff development purposes. The administration has earmarked that time to help teachers with
technology planning and implementation. PICASSO is required in Cobb County, and the future goal is to make it a
beneficial tool for all teachers in order to help children succeed..

References

Cobb County School District (2003). Picasso. Retrieved September 29, 2003, from www.cobbk12.org.

Driscoll, M. P. (2002). How people learn and what technology might have to do with it. THEJournal. 30(4).
Retrieved September 20, 2003 from EBSCO.

International Society for Technology Education (2003). Technology integration resources. Retrieved September 19,
2003 from http://www.iste.org/

Moersch, C. (1999). Assessing current use of technology in classrooms learning and leading with technology.
Retrieved September 19, 2003 from http://www.learning-quest.com/software/asstechuse.pdf

Robertson, H. J. (2003). Blurred goals of educators. Phi Delta Kappan, 84(5) 414-416. Retrieved September 20,
2003 from Academic Search Premier.

United States Department of Education (2003). No child left behind. Retrieved September       28,     2003     from
http://www.ed.gov/nclb/landing.jhtml?src=pb

Yildirim, S. (2000). Effects of an educational computing course on preservice and in-service teachers: A discussion
and analysis of attitudes and use. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 32(4) 479-497. Retrieved
September 20, 2003 from Academic Search Premier.

								
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