My Love/Hate Relationship with Technology in the Classroom (but Really Love)
I am a firm believer that technology makes our lives easier. And as an educator, I have seen how technology can enhance and extend a lesson. But technology does not always work as planned. And what do you do during a lesson in the classroom or out in the world when technology fails? I had this thought as I stood outside the Long Beach Airport at an unexpected checkpoint. I had to show my boarding pass to enter the airport. No problem, I thought. I whipped out my phone, navigated to an app, and clicked on the boarding pass button, only to realize I had a weak cell signal. While my boarding pass was slowly buffering, at least a dozen other travelers pulled out their paper ticket in a matter of seconds and were waved through. In this case technology almost failed. But despite that fact, having the ticket on my phone was convenient as I made my way through other checkpoints that day. Technology failed me in the moment, but overall it enhanced my experience and made my life easier. The same is true for technology in the classroom. Integrating technology in the classroom is essential for the success of 21st century learners. And, no matter how prepared ¬≠you are, there will be technical difficulties and technology "fails" to navigate. However, in the long run, the benefits of technology integration will far outweigh the difficulties. And, luckily there are some easy ways to maximize the use of technology in the classroom while minimizing the pitfalls that can occur.
- Start Small - Technology moves fast, and there are thousands of tech tools to choose from. Choosing a tech tool and integrating it into the classroom can be overwhelming. So start small. Choose two or three tech tools that can enhance your lesson plans and use them often until they become a seamless part of your routine. This will help you focus your technology use in the classroom and will allow you to build a solid foundation of tech tools you can rely on and build upon.
- Have a Backup Plan - Nothing ever goes exactly to plan with technology. Your internet connection may fail the day you have planned a virtual fieldtrip. The light bulb in your projector may burn out. The video you embedded in your presentation may become unlinked. With a backup plan or another way to present your lesson, you will be able to successfully recover without skipping a beat.
- Choose Tech Tools that Modify and Redefine - Choose tools that go beyond merely replicating what can be accomplished with paper and pencil. Choose tech tools that extend and enhance your lesson. If a tech tool does not extend what your students could do without the tech tool, you may just be overcomplicating the lesson.
- Continue Learning - The more you know about the tech tools that are available to you, the better your lessons will be, the more you will be able to substitute one tool for another, and the more comfortable you will feel about technology integration.
- Ask Your Students - When in doubt about how to use a tech tool, or when faced with a technical roadblock, ask your students to help you problem solve. Creating an environment where collaborative Problem Solving is welcome empowers students and builds Critical Thinking and problem-solving skills.
In the end, like me, you'll see that technology in the classroom is something to love!