iSuccess: Planning to Integrate Personal and Instructional Technology

By Fritz Geissler, M.Ed., and Brenda Lucus, M.Ed.

November/December 2010 Link Lines 

With so many new technology tools becoming available every year, it is difficult to keep up with the “latest and greatest.” For educators, it is even more challenging to figure out which tools provide the best opportunities to add value to a student's educational experience. Consider the changes of the last 10 years: From computer labs to laptop carts, to iPod/iTouch, to the new iPad. Given these rapid changes, it is important to remember that while the technology continues to advance, the principles of integrating technology to support student success have  remained constant.

To keep the focus of technology use on content and instructional goals, Harris and Hofer (2009) proposed using the following steps when planning to integrate technology:

  1. Choose learning goals.
    Start with the learning goal to make sure the focus is on student learning and content.
  2. Consider how the student(s) learn(s) best.
    Create the best environment and instructional conditions for students to help them achieve positive outcomes.
  3. Indentify instructional activities that you will use to present information.
    Be sure to base instructional activities on the learning goals and pedagogical design of the lesson/content.
  4. Identify how you will assess student understanding (How will you know that they know it).
    Decide how you will know that the students have achieved the desired outcomes.
  5. Select the tools and resources that will best help students to learn.
    Start by considering tools that are available at your school as well as tools with which the student is familiar and can easily access.  Communication with parents can provide insight into tools that are engaging and helpful for students outside of school.  Such tools may also be helpful in school or with schoolwork.


  1. A student is having difficulty with letters and sounds.  The goal is to provide the student support and increased practice with the letters. The way that the student learns best should  dictate the direction to take in planning for support.
  2. The teacher knows that the student learns best with visual representations and repetition and, therefore, chooses these kinds of activities.
  3. As a result, the teacher designs an activity that provides the student with practice using visual representations with the letters.
  4. Further, the teacher determines that with extra support and practice, the student can complete the weekly assessment with the other students, and decides to use those assessment data to determine whether or not the student is making progress with the supportive activity.
  5. The teacher has a number of technology tools to choose from in planning to support the student.  One option is a personal technology deviceipad that the student already uses.  If the parents indicate that the student is familiar with the iTouch, iPhone, or iPad interface, and has access to this technology at home, the teacher could use one of the Apps for letters to support the student’s practice.  Another option would be to create a photo story in which the letters are presented on individual slides with representative pictures.  Such an option could be further enhanced by adding audio of the letters and sounds to support the visual.  If the product is converted to a movie, it could be placed on the student’s personal device (iTouch, iPhone, or iPad) so that he/she could view it both at school and at home.  The teacher could also create a more traditional product such as a PowerPoint file with the letters, pictures, and audio that the student could use at school.

As student access to personal technology devices outside of school increases, so do the number of opportunities to provide support using tools familiar to students.  The key to success lies in finding the tool that best supports both the content and the student.

For more information on educational applications for iPhone and iTouch, visit


Harris, J., & Hofer, M. (2009). Grounded tech integration. Learning & Leading with Technology, 37(2), 22-25.

For More Information

Learning activity types wiki. Retrieved from