Technology, a Tool for Instruction.

Seems like these days new technology arrives daily. Phones, laptops, tablets, you name it. I’ve never been one to buy the newest tech just because its new, and I’m sure most teachers will tell you their schools are not state of the art. In fact, until this year I’m pretty sure we were running briskly walking Office 2003.

Technology, in all of its facets, is not going away. So, as educators it has become an additional aspect of our profession to teach students how to use these new tools. For many schools, especially smaller ones like my own, there is not a full-time technologist or technology instructor. It comes down to those who dabble and explore technology simply because they have personal interest and motivation to learn for themselves. It takes these individuals, I’ll include myself  in this category, but also the appropriate tools to instruct with.

In order to teach students how to use technological tools it is quite important that you have access to these tools. In fact obviously its the only way to provide students with meaningful opportunities to development technical literacy that will benefit them in the future. However, the most important point I would like to make is as I stated earlier these are tools for instruction, and do not replace instruction. We need to know how we plan on using the new technology we plan to incorporate into our classrooms.

Unfortunately, with ever-changing technology and schools’ attempting to keep up I have noticed a common trend: School’s buy technology  and then try to figure out what to do with it. This is an ineffective use of funds, and a poor way to plan student learning. For instance, during a planning meeting between myself and a few special educators I co-teach with earlier this year some one said to me (to the gist of)  “Our department got half a dozen iPads, so what can you do with them?”

This, to me, is absurd. If we are going to spend hundreds of dollars on technology let’s know what were doing with it. How will we use that tech to teach students the skills to succeed in the age of technology? Or how will we use that tech to teach classroom content? These should be the first questions asked before any purchasing is done, or else you end up with teachers with really expensive note pads and calendars that maybe have some fun games too.

Yes, I can write about this and be frustrated all I want, like so many others, but I decided to put my money where my mouth is and joined my school’s technology committee. The goal of the committee is to develop a plan outlining the direction our school’s technology  use. Where will we be over the next few years and further into the future. This plan is to include both physical purchases of technology but also create, and then hopefully install, a technology curriculum that will be used in our school to guide how we employ this technology to make 21st century students.

It may not be possible for school’s to keep up with the technology race, but we should try to at least pace off of it so we don’t get left in the dust. Remember, technology is a tool for, not alternative to instruction.

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3 responses

  1. I like the idea of organizing a teachnology committee which takes care of the technolgy section at a school. Though some people don’t want to admit it, speacially in third world countries (it costs money and time) technology and education go hand by hand and developing a curriculum where technology is included will put that school a step forward if you compare it to the others.

  2. The more things change, the more they stay the same! I recall, 20 years ago, as a school board chair, voting to approve a huge expenditure to allow us to move beyond the one computer in the back of the classroom to the establishment of computer labs and many computers in every classroom. Two years later I discovered that students were using them for word processing and teachers had no idea how to integrate this “new” technology into their classroom instruction. The solution was to hire a district specialist who is available to provide training, model, and provide support in this area. We have a similar situation facing us at this time. Technology is moving faster than we can keep pace. Organizations with fewer members and smaller budgets than school supervisory unions have IT folks on staff to support this rapidly changing tech environment. It seems to me that schools should also have a position that has a central focus of helping teachers keep pace with technology and maximize the use of the expensive hardware we are now purchasing.

  3. It’s funny because I was just thinking about the same thing a few days ago. I remember back in middle school, my teachers got these little devices called “clickers” that they used in place of multiple-choice tests. They spent weeks trying to figure the little things out and all hell broke loose when something wasn’t working. Now I do support technology just as much as the next person, we can’t just leave the education field completely oblivious to the changes around it. Your school’s Technology Committee sounds like a really creative way to tackle this problem, I wouldn’t have expected any less from you.

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