Five years of supporting technology in the classroom cannot be summarized in one post. However, the bullet points below can stand as just a few of the “big picture” understandings I’ve come to believe about technology in light of the view I’ve been given in the position of technology integration specialist.
- Technology should be applied where it enhances, not duplicates, student learning activities. Return-On-Investment is a fine principle to apply when considering any Stage 3 learning activity, including those that apply technology. We should not check our teaching intuition at the door whenever someone suggests a “techie” way to accomplish an assessment or learning activity.
- Connect outside your classroom. Of all the “21st-century skills” that are touted in education circles, one of the most important happens within a classroom where the teacher is not the sole judge of student performance. Students creating for peers and adults that live outside the experiences of our classroom walls are motivated by an internal desire to perform, and technology makes this easier than ever before. We ought to leverage authentic audience whenever we design our units.
- Leverage the power of the web. The Internet has fundamentally altered the way space and time affect the process of learning. Find a website creator and set up avenues to communicate what you know to kids. Then find an interactive tool that will allow students to communicate what they know to you. The two-way street, the feedback loop that makes learning happen, is then open 24/7. Obviously, parameters have to be set and expectations should be negotiated, but ignoring the possibilities of the web will increasingly mean ignoring the culture in which we live.
- Simple is king. There are wonderful ways to apply technology to the learning environment that require some technical expertise or a thorough knowledge of the possibilities of hardware and software. But keep in mind that simple applications have just as much power. Never discount a way of using technology just because it doesn’t take long to explain. Share those often – they often make a big difference in the lives of a lot of teachers and students.
- Never snub novelty. While curricular big ideas and objectives ought to drive the learning activities we select, we ought never lose sight of the simple fun of novelty. Kids like to do new things. Adults like to do new things. Technology has an endless supply of “fun”, and, when used as one component of our overall design, it can be a powerful ally as we channel student enthusiasm toward the business of learning.
None of the above is new, but I’m confident in every one. Have one of your own? Drop it in the comment field below.