Dear Otto: Lab Teacher or Integration Specialist

28 Aug
tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Sandra:

I am a Tech teacher, I was told that my school is thinking of eliminating our computer lab, and that students will use their computers in their classrooms. I would love to hear other Tech teacher’s opinions as I think a tech lab is useful at this point where teacher’s are not so at ease with using technology, so I think students would be missing out. I believe in students coming to the lab with their teacher or not, with their own laptops (as we have 1:1), but a Tech teacher at this time seems necessary to me. I feel many of the things that I do like Google Maps, Programming, keyboarding, and so many software that I introduce which they don’t know of, will be left out. Not to say that in a few years, teachers will not be IT literate enough to do it all themselves, but right now and looking at the teachers at my school, they still need a lot of Professional Development to get to know all the fantastic tools out there, and learn how to adapt and use them with their students.
Really look forward to hearing other views.

This is a hot question. We rolled it around on my blog about a year ago and my opinions haven’t changed since then. Click the link. I know it’s the direction Admin wants to go, and it’s the right direction to satisfy Common Core and ISTE standards. The question is: How does one make it work? The classroom teachers aren’t trained to deliver tech. It would be like we tech teachers asserting we could deliver their content as well as them. Just not true. Yes, tech will get integrated into the curriculum with the best efforts of the classroom teachers, but student knowledge, skills, comfort will suffer. Who will teach keyboarding? Digital Citizenship? Techie problem solving tricks? And when will the classroom teachers have time to uncover those fabulously useful web-based tools like Animoto, Prezi,, and the new ones that pop up every day?

I’m with you on this.

I can see one way to make it work, and that would be morphing you (and me) into an integration specialist. That means we’d train classroom teachers to accomplish each integration as it was required and they teach the students. We’d be there for support, but the classroom teacher would teach and follow up. I think that would work with a lot of time on your part, a big commitment by the classroom teachers, and patience.

It may be time to post this question again and see if anyone’s opinions have changed since the last time. Let me know how this works out.

More posts on being a tech teacher:

To ask Otto a question, fill out the form below:

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blogger, a columnist for, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, will be out this summer. Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.


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  1. Meg King-AbrahamNo Gravatar

    July 17, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Last year, I taught haftime in a lab (as a specialist) and halftime in classrooms (as an integrationist). It was the best of both worlds. Students got lots of experience. Teachers got to experience integration in their rooms. Unfortunately, teaching in classrooms is expensive, as it is not providing for prep periods. Because of budget woes, my district had to cut all the elementary integrationists, so I am going back to a lab full time.

    • Jacqui MurrayNo Gravatar

      July 17, 2015 at 11:07 am

      I’m surprised. It’s usually the other direction. Personally, I love that option because it works so closely with the students. Good luck with the change!

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