Thursday, January 3, 2013

Preparing Highly-Effective, Tech-Savvy Teachers

I had a meeting this morning with a couple of colleagues to talk about how we are using technology and how we are teaching our students to use technology. This is a big deal for me, and I've been thinking a lot about it over Christmas break.

Education Week shared this story earlier this week. It resonates with me very strongly; it gets at what Teacher Education Programs need to think about as we prepare pre-service teachers for the realities of technology in school. Because I'm guessing many beginning teachers--despite their digital native status--are simply unprepared to really teach with technology.

My friend Josh recently shared this infographic with me, and it sums up much of what my colleagues and I were discussing this morning. The big idea here is that there are clear habits of mind for how teachers who are effective at using technology in their teaching practice approach their craft.

I've been reading a lot, and writing a bit, and thinking, thinking, thinking about teaching and EdTech. My best thinking right now:

  1. Technology can enhance teaching and learning. (But this is not a given.)
  2. Teachers--even digital natives--need encouragement, support, training, and most of all time to experiment with incorporating technology into their teaching practices.
  3. EdTech professional development is best served just-in-time and in a mentoring setting, rather than a spray-and-pray PD meeting.
  4. Heuristics (patterns of thinking, problem-solving approaches) are more important than learning specific tools/devices/services/apps. Now that I've said that, however...
  5. Teachers need to have a working understanding of the tech tools of the day, and have an eye to the future at the same time.
  6. Technology can transform the kinds of assignments teachers give. But they often don't. For example: word-processing an essay instead of hand-writing it doesn't change the assignment. Posting the essay to a blog and encouraging students to comment on each other's work might change the assignment. Blogging for an authentic audience is (likely) a more radical shift in the assignment.
  7. Pedagogy still matters in a high-tech environment. Good teaching is still good teaching. Poor teaching is still poor teaching. And because I believe that, I also think...
  8. Technology can actually be a crutch to support poor teaching. (I know this has been the case in my own teaching practice at times.)
  9. Technology is not a panacea that will fix all school problems. 
  10. In the end, the real focus needs to be on LEARNING, not the technologies in place.

What do you think? Am I missing big pieces of the puzzle here?


  1. #10 honestly scares me a bit, because I feel like that could very easily be me. I have to remember not to use the technology just for the sake of using technology, Perhaps all it takes to avoid that is to just ask myself before implementing it. I feel like that would catch a lot of the problems. If not, it turns into #8, which is even worse...

    1. Agreed. Tech for tech's sake seems to always make for poor teaching. The big idea, in my thinking, is to *first* be sure your pedagogy is sound, and then ask, "Will using a tech tool improve my students' learning?" In my M.Ed. work, one question we continually asked was, "Is there a relative advantage for using technology?" If the answer was no...well...