We all know that technology is a huge piece of the classroom today, but the big question that looms is are we using the technology for the sake of technology or is there some purpose behind it? It can be a hard transition from little to no technology to a 1:1 environment.
At our school, Joplin High School, we made the transition very suddenly six years ago after the tornado destroyed our school. The computers were a donation and the decision was made that we would not buy replacement textbooks. It was a very stressful situation for everyone involved.
Teachers and students now had to learn how to do school differently than they had ever before. There was not much in the way of training for our staff in how to manage a 1:1 classroom and there was this perception that the teachers had to change everything about their teaching style. Students struggled because they were not used to learning in a technology heavy environment.
What we learned in those first few years in the 1:1 environment, is that you have to have really solid classroom management and that you have to base your technology on good teaching pedagogy. We have been learning that using technology for the sake of technology does not help our students learn, but actually hinders learning and can do a number on our classroom management.
When deciding on what technology tools to use in the classroom, the first question I ask is how can this help the students meet our learning intentions? The technology needs to serve a purpose. If it doesn’t help the students, it could end up distracting them from actually learning what you want them to learn.
The second question I ask is how does this tool inform me about student learning? There are so many technology tools out there that are there to help teachers collect data on student learning.
I also recommend using the SAMR model for evaluating technology use in the classroom. Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. This is a great way to check the reasons and plan for how you use your educational technology.
The point is for us to really evaluate the technology we use in the classroom and make sure that it serves a purpose and supports or extends the learning for our students.
As many you probably know though, all the questions in the world about use of technology, do not help if you do not have proper professional development to help you understand the technology and how to make the best use of it in the classroom. I have found that learning from your fellow teachers is one of the best ways and if you school is lucky enough to have technology learning coaches, they are a great resource to help. We also have a cohort at our school that gets together to learn about and work with educational technology and then we present at professional development days. It has been really helpful in encouraging teachers to explore educational technology, but also work on evaluating educational technology and how to use it in the classroom.
If you have any ideas for evaluating technology or ways for teachers to get together and learning about implementing technology in the classroom, let us know!