Thursday, November 6, 2014

How Should We Be Using Technology in Schools?

I admit that I'm a technophile, and I generally advocate for the use of technology in teaching (though I take "technology" pretty broadly...I've said before that a pencil is an educational technology...)

I recently came across this article from Forbes via Twitter: It's Time to Rethink Our Use of Technology in Schools. No matter if you consider yourself a technophile or a technophobe when it comes to using technology for teaching and learning, I hope you'll take the time to read it an reflect on what is being presented here.

Several provocative points that stirred my thinking:

"There is evidence that where schools and colleges use technology effectively there is a correlation with better outcomes. But that is not the same as saying the technology is actually aiding learning. It is not the technology that makes a difference, it is the teachers." (emphasis mine)

--> This is very much what I'm thinking right now. We often get pretty wound up about the possibilities of the tools, but good pedagogy still makes the most impact. Technology does not--and truly cannot--replace a great teacher!

"Five ideas for tech integration from Martin Blows:

  • Exchange: swapping traditional ways of doing things with ICT
  • Enrich: engaging learners with a richer mix of media
  • Enhance: encouraging deeper learning through the use of ICT
  • Extend: encouraging students to take their learning further
  • Empower: giving students control over their own learning

It is not the technology itself that is important, it is how it is used. And this requires investment not just in equipment but in giving teachers the confidence and competence to exploit it."

--> I love the five E's here, but I'm not so sure that "Exchange" is a good enough way to use EdTech. If it's a straight up swap, I'm not sure there is enough of a value-add for using the technology vs. not using the tech. My 2¢...

What do you think? Are there other great things that stand out for you here?


  1. Dave,

    I fully agree on the exchange piece. The "bling factor" of technology in education has always bothered me. I recall replacing CRT monitors with LCD monitors in a school I worked in when a large donation of used units came in (yes, this dates me) and students, parents, and more all being very excited about how different things were. Same computer underneath the monitors no change. Hmmm... what's going on here?

    Another case example, the verbage flying around with regards to smartboards has always troubled me. A powerful tool in the hands of a committed, pd-invested teacher, to be sure, but more often than not this cost-intensive item is equated with cutting edge education based on its visual presence alone. Wise, fair, stewardly? Not so sure.

    We introduced some whiteboards into many classrooms that were 4x4 Home Depot sheets cut into 12x12 inch personal sized "everyone answers the question" spaces @ $.83 a piece and radically enhanced pedagogy. That's exchange with a value add!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Stephen. I'm with you on SMARTBoards. Sure, they are a tool. But can what you do with them justify the cost? Technologies always have costs, whether financial or otherwise. Telling ourselves otherwise is fooling ourselves. But that's NOT to say that they aren't *worth* the costs in some situations. I totally agree with your point about the individual white boards. I actually saw "white board paint" (similar to "chalkboard paint" that you can buy at the hardware store), which would allow you to turn any surface in your classroom into a whiteboard. Now THAT would be something! I think it would be more valuable to me than a SMARTboard... :-)

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences!