We are in a time of exponential technology growth and change in education. Much of this change can be attributed to a growing number of devices, software and apps available for teachers and students. As a result, some form of educational technology is being implemented in many classrooms across the world or being infused into the overall learning process for students. This can be considered a positive and important change in the world of education because for far too long little changed in our classrooms and schools.
However, we must acknowledge the one secret to educational technology use, regardless of the device, software, or app being used by educators and /or students. That secret is:
What WE do with educational technology matters more than the actual technology being used.
I’ve seen classrooms where the educational technology available to educators and students spills out across the classroom and I’ve seen classrooms with a singular device or tech resource. Most would consider the first classroom with lots of technology the best for learning, but the answer is neither classroom is the best for learning if educators do not know how to effectively implement educational technology use.
In order for us to effectively implement educational technology we need to:
- Determine the learning outcome we want for students. This has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with good teaching. Using educational technology in a lesson is not a teaching outcome and should not be part of the first step in planning and teaching.
- Identify how educational technology can engage, enhance, and improve the teaching and learning experience. Educational technology used in the lesson should be based on the established learning outcome. If an educator is limited to a specific device, website, or app, then get creative with its use in your classroom. However, do not just use it to say you are using educational technology. Use it because the lesson, the learning, your teaching, and ultimately your students are better off because you used it in your teaching.
- Become completely informed about and comfortable with the educational technology being used. Here’s where your own learning comes into play. When implementing education technology into your instruction you need to be comfortable with it. No one gives a second thought on how to use a pencil, whiteboard marker, ruler, or a textbook in the classroom. That level of comfort with those educational “tools” should be the same level of comfort for educational technology tools. You have to take it upon yourself to learn about the educational technology in your classroom because surface knowledge will only produce surface teaching and surface learning. Do not leave your professional development up to others. Take an active role in it beyond what is provided to you by your school or district and learn all about the technology you will use.
The benefits of using educational technology in our classrooms are limitless for our students and us, as educators. However, the amount of technology available will not make our classrooms better. We can only do that if we commit to effectively implementing any available educational technology into our classrooms after the student learning outcomes are determined. Educational technology should enhance the lesson and the learning because what WE do with educational technology matters more than the actual technology being used.
This post is an excerpt from my upcoming book Digital Perspectives.