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When working with teachers, technology coaches should keep their professional development offerings engaging while focusing on providing support to teachers with respect to how technology can support learning goals in the classroom. While many strategies exist to increase the engagement during professional development, gamification represents a current strategy used by classroom teachers and can be used by technology coaches for professional development. Gamification incorporates positive gaming elements, such as personalization and achievement systems, in the design of a class or course. Using a gamified environment with recognition and awards can lead to more positive teacher experiences in the professional development sessions. Teachers who participated in a gamified course reported enjoying the gaming elements, including receiving badges and awards in recognition of their work. These teachers reported that the course motivated them to learn due to their ability to tailor the experience to their own needs based upon the gaming pathways. Months after the conclusion of the course, participants reported still making use of many of the skills and concepts they learned during the course in their own classrooms (Kopcha, Ding, Neumann, & Choi, 2016).

As with lesson planning of any type, the usage of standards to align lesson content with student learning goals is essential. Technology integration is no different and, as such, technology standards are available for technology coaches and teachers to use in lesson planning. These standards include general statements about the usage of technology and how that technology should better prepare students to participate in an increasingly connected world (International Society for Technology in Education, n.d.) but offer little assistance to teachers on how to appropriately measure the effectiveness of any technologies used in the classroom.

Models. The usage of a model for technology integration can provide technology coaches an effective method for supporting teachers wishing to integrate technology to support student outcomes. Technology coaches and teachers have a wide variety of technology integration models from which to choose. These models provide an overview for connecting technology with lessons and evaluating instructional technology applications. Two popular models for technology integration are the Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition (SAMR) model and the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework (Hilton, 2016). The SAMR model offers a tiered approach to measuring classroom tasks involving technology while the TPACK framework focuses on the integration of content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge.

Issues with popular models. However, current technology integration models have little to offer in the way of theoretical understanding of how to interpret the models while also neglecting to offer a way to apply the models in the classroom setting (Hamilton, Rosenberg, & Akcaoglu, 2016). Furthermore, current technology integration models like SAMR and TPACK offer little assistance in critically analyzing the usage of technology in the development of higher order thinking skills (McLeod & Graber, 2019, p. 11), an essential component in the current educational environment that is moving away from low-level tasks such as rote memorization of facts and figures.

With many technology integration models available, the selection and usage of a particular model can enhance the relationship between a classroom teacher and the school or district technology coach, along with providing a structure for choosing the appropriate technology to use during a lesson (Hilton, 2016). However, the usage of a model for integrating technology is only one factor that contributes to the successful integration of technology into a lesson. Appropriately evaluating the technology used in a classroom with regard to student learning outcomes and higher order thinking tasks is essential to advance the appropriate use of technology in the classroom. The 4 Shifts Protocol provides a pathway to align technology integration based upon one of the relevant models with educational goals that are specific to a teacher’s local context.

The 4 Shifts Protocol. When integrating technology into the classroom, many teachers simply replicate the types of tasks traditionally completed using pencil and paper with any number of technology tools. When students use costly technology tools for low-level cognitive tasks, concerns and questions raised by parents, community members, and the local school board about the effectiveness of these tools and the cost of the investments necessary to purchase them are often difficult to answer (McLeod & Graber, 2019, p. 5). The 4 Shifts Protocol, unlike SAMR and TPACK that are conceptual frameworks for technology integration, provides a pathway for teachers to analyze the types of tasks students are completing in classes with concrete look-fors that aid in moving student work from low-level cognitive activities to deeper learning experiences with connections to the world outside the walls of the classroom. The protocol focuses on four areas: (1) deeper thinking and learning, (2) authentic work, (3) student agency and personalization, and (4) technology integration (McLeod & Graber, 2019). The technology used as part of the fourth area provides support to the other three areas and can provide for the creation of deeper learning experiences for students.


Hamilton, E., Rosenberg, J., & Akcaoglu, M. (2016). The substitution augmentation modification redefinition (SAMR) model: A critical review and suggestions for its use. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 60(5), 433–441.

Hilton, J. T. (2016). A case study of the application of SAMR and TPACK for reflection on technology integration into two Social Studies classrooms. The Social Studies, 107(2), 68–73.

International Society for Technology in Education. (n.d.). ISTE standards for students. Retrieved July 22, 2019, from

Kopcha, T., Ding, L., Neumann, K., & Choi, I. (2016). Teaching technology integration to K-12 educators: A “gamified” approach. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 60(1), 62–69.

McLeod, S., & Graber, J. (2019). Harnessing technology for deeper learning. Solution Tree Press.