How To Properly Integrate Education Technology Using The ‘Plan, Trust, Expect’ Method

“Professional development days are like trying to learn 12 games at once.”

On a professional development day, someone explains the rules to all 12 games, one after the other. But when time comes to play the game, who can actually remember which rules go with which game? Students often feel the same way: What is the objective? What does it take to win? What were those rules, again?

Enter: Integration

Teach the rules when the rules make sense-in our classrooms and during professional development moments. First identify when students have ‘rules’ they need to learn, then identify when they can be turned lose to ‘play ball.’ Identify when there is a necessary technology learning curve (the ‘rules’) and when technology becomes invisible to learning. Enter, the PLAN, TRUST, EXPECT scale. When we ‘scale’ our students properly, we are more likely to integrate technology and redefine our teaching.

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This is where we always start. This is what good classroom teachers do best: plan. So with a first-time use of technology, build in allotted time for a longer learning curve and know this will vary depending on the age and comfort level of the student. Maintain the integrity of the lesson despite the level of technical skills required. Don’t make the learning about technology, but remember first time exposure to a particular app, site, device, etc., is a good time to ‘relax’ on your more specific academic expectations. Lessen your frustrations and angst with built in time to explore. Don’t be discouraged when your students fail to meet a planned objective; they are mastering tools they will use repeatedly. Likewise, don’t be afraid that you don’t know more than your students. If they experiment and make discoveries beyond your planned expectations, relish in the fact that they are showing intuition, independence, creativity, and confidence. This is exactly what you want to happen.

Plan the learning curve. You are giving the rules when the rules are in play.


Once you’ve infused technology into your plans with regularity, the need to plan a tech learning curve diminishes. Less time on the technology learning curve means more time to accomplish other goals. You work your way back into higher expectations and trust that your students know how to ‘make it happen.’ When you slide into ‘trust’ on the scale, your students have begun to identify tech common denominators (i.e. drawing tool icons, saving and sharing icons, recording and editing capabilities). You trust your students will apply what they know about one app into another. You trust their growing confidence in technology allowing you to expect more and grow more. You trust your own planning-from timing your day just right, to setting realistic expectations. You build less time into ‘technology’ and more time into learning.

You and your students are applying the rules. You trust the players know the rules–


Here on the scale, technology becomes invisible. You have confidence in your students; your students have complete confidence in the tech component of their challenges. You expect students to meet and exceed their goals. Students have choices and learn to put their stamp on their work. You have given them the tools, they are proficient with the tools; they decide when and how to use the tools. You can expect the students to integrate seamlessly. It is here on the scale where transformative teaching happens.

Rules intact, they are playing ball. But this time they have a game plan, they are strategizing, and they expect the win.

Find Your Place on the Scale

I maintain this visual and ask, “When a tech component is present, where do I land the slider?” Find your place on the scale, your confidence will grow, and your students and colleagues will play ball.

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1 Comment

  1. John Macdonald

    June 9, 2014 at 1:59 am

    Interesting way to look at integration of technology. It seems a rather simplistic version of James Paul Gee’s book /What do Video Games Have to Teach us About Learning and Literacy/. If you have not read it I highly recommend it, as it will help teachers more fully understand how to bring students into the appropriate semiotic domain for learning and knowledge building.