Considering resolutions for the new year is something we all do. For educators, it is considering best practices when it comes to helping students achieve. Are the new programs and new strategies working? Are they going to continue to work, and what can I do to make them better this year? One area educators tend to overlook at times is the technology they are using in their setting.
Most schools do a technology assessment, which means that you take inventory and assess what is being used, what is not, and what the educators and students are using that is effective. This may seem easy enough, but there are some philosophical shifts that need to be considered in the overall field in education that should be applied to technology as well.
If we want to achieve the ultimate goal of sending high school graduates into the workforces and off to college with a deep understanding of how to problem solve in multiple disciplines in a moment’s notice, we need to consider more than just how the computers and devices in the classroom are being used, but also how they will build student skills and experiences that will better prepare students.
Three things to Stop doing:
- Stop thinking that the technology will provide the answers. It is easy to do, just Google it….but then what? What if the device or internet is not working? If the device isn’t working, ask the students how else they can find answers, or what they might do to use it more appropriately to do so. An inquiry-based approach to learning will foster problem-solving understanding.
- Stop believing it will make learning quicker. Just because software and devices can provide a quick way to access feedback, doesn’t mean it will make the students learn concepts quicker. Conceptual understanding takes time and requires more than just feedback, but a deeper understanding.
- Stop “required” computer time. No set amount of time on computers will make students better learners. Spending time on computers might help students acquire skills, but it won’t deepen the learning, it takes problem-solving and reflection to do that.
Three things to Start doing:
- Start using the technology as a problem-solving tool, rather than a crutch. If you have computers, Ipads, or a BYOD policy, start asking the students ways that they can use the devices to make your class time more efficient, let them problem solve for you, rather than be expected to show them how to use the technology. This helps them enforces their ability to work as a community and as a positive force for change.
- Start sharing your passion through technology, don’t force technology for technology’s sake. Whatever it is that excites you as an educator, find a way you can share it through the technology as a platform for deeper learning. Give it some bells and whistles that will excite your students about the content, and allow them to return the sharing with their passion as well.
- Start using the technology to share and showcase student work. There is nothing like feeling your hard work is appreciated, and imagine how students feel when they can experience sharing their work to the school, district, parents, and the community. Today’s technology allows you to do so in many ways and platforms: websites, blogs, videos, podcasts, etc…
The three things to Celebrate:
- Celebrate professional staff milestones, and use the technology for professional development. One of the best ways to help students achieve is to help teachers achieve. Use the technology to help deliver professional development, and help your teachers be comfortable with it. Praise them for reaching milestones in the technological realm. This is a win-win, if the teachers are comfortable, then the students can take off in their learning.
- Celebrate the use of technology to collaborate as a community, with staff, students and parents. Email, school websites, Edmodo, Google Classroom, and other online communication tools have really taken staying connected to students and parents to a new level. Continue to do so, and think about how to use the tools to connect to the community and celebrate the success as well.
- Celebrate and share each student’s potential, and ensure the positive change you want to make through the technology. Every student has something to share and make a positive impact. Use the technology to tell them so, email them or their parents, post a video or quote on a blog, send reminder texts to tell them they are doing a good job. Being mindful of praising the good work in your students is a simple way you can encourage them to become positive contributors to their community, and productive citizens as a whole.