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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