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Innovation in EdTech

Category: Education

Hitting “Enter” on Integrating Educational Technology

Taking the Leap & hit “Enter”on EdTech The Right Driver When looking to find ways to bring educational technology into the classroom often we start with the device. The question…

Taking the Leap & hit “Enter”on EdTech

The Right Driver

When looking to find ways to bring educational technology into the classroom often we start with the device. The question is why? Well, it is easy to point to; if you are sharing with your staff and/or students to let them know that technology integration is important and you can point directly to a device, that signifies a change. When we place the device in the room, we have the appearance of a 21st Century classroom and visually it “feels” modern.

However, there is mounds of research that says starting with device acquisition is the wrong driver. The technology, be it a laptop or tablet, that we put in the hands of our students is only a tool and only as valuable as the pedagogy behind unleashing its capabilities. Too often we see stories of districts purchasing devices only to have them go unused, become a tool on the shelf that never gets used or have their usage capped at digitizing the same worksheets. In his book Disruptive Classroom Technologies Sonny Magana points to three nuanced changes we can look to when seeking innovation with educational technology:

  1. Helping students experience new learning content
  2. Helping students build and strengthen connections between background knowledge and new learning content
  3. Helping students apply their content knowledge to create models that represent new understanding and meaning.

I would add a fourth change

4. Helping students acquire transferable skills in the use of technology to create and communicate

Hitting “Enter” Starts with Pedagogy

A room can be filled with new technology and the best infrastructure you can find, but if we fail to change our practice, the learning will not change and technology will have made no difference. “Educational technology is not a silver bullet” (Eric Sheninger & Thomas Murray) It cannot be the tool that is the driver.

Still we see that a great deal of EdTech professional training starts with a focus technology, devices or apps. Now these types of showcases do show us what is possible, but rarely serve to shift practice. The idea of shifting practice in educational technology also has problem of being treated as an singular event; you have been trained, so go forth. The end result being perhaps some gained perspective on what is possible, but without ongoing support and training, there is often difficultly maintaining any sustained changed in pedagogy.

“To redesign the learning experience and sustain those practices (shifts in pedagogy) in the long term, we must invest in the capacity of those who have the greatest effect (classroom teachers)-Eric Sheninger & Thomas Murray . Our teachers are our front line, where our vision meets the students; we need to empower them and build the capacity of our teacher leaders. People will follow a colleague, someone they trust and the more we provide opportunities to have our teachers share and interact, the better chance we have of making great practices go viral.

We know that “bringing technology into a classroom can awaken student to the world outside of it.” (Eric Sheninger & Thomas Murray) Moreover our schools have the opportunity to utilize EdTech to build the content knowledge and transferable skills to serve our student beyond our walls. Integrating EdTech into the classroom is a endeavor worth investing in. We must start with building the why with our teachers so that once the devices arrive, we are ready to have these devices be the accelerator to great teaching.

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Never Underestimate the Power of Being You

Be You. Always be You. Over the past two weeks I have the opportunity to spend hours in classrooms observing teachers.  What I came away with is, you have to…

Be You. Always be You.

Over the past two weeks I have the opportunity to spend hours in classrooms observing teachers.  What I came away with is, you have to be you. The most powerful lessons I see come from when teachers are in “their zone.” The energy is different, the students tuned in, and the learning in palpable.

Speaking from experience, I was always borrowing, begging and searching for another great lesson when I taught. I would find the teachers I know were just killing it in the classroom and ask for the lesson and wanted to replicate that in my classroom. Often what I found was that the lesson would be good, but not as great, something was missing. I was missing. I wasn’t that other teacher and the lesson just wasn’t going to be the same.

Now I am not suggesting that we should not be collaborating because I firmly believe in it and know we are all better when we work together. I am saying, take the best parts of that collaboration and work those into your style of teaching. Going back to my observations this week, it was fascinating to see the same content delivered in different styles. You really see that content is content, but where the learning really takes off is when you have teacher that is giving their all to the lesson and the students are all in.

Ultimately I am encouraging you to be you and embrace it. Students respond to authenticity; they like knowing their teachers are fun, quirky, gaming nerds, surfers, cat lovers, enjoy bad jokes or are just simply someone who has boundless energy. Whoever you are and whatever your style embrace it, there is so much to be gained with your students.

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