This year has been an explosion of new knowledge for me in the technology realm. I don’t know how, but for several years, I just missed the ed tech train. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in technology. I was. But I was holed up in my classroom being a hermit. Through a few opportunities this year, I entered into this new technological world in education, and it’s been great. But there is one thing that I’ve seen that is dangerous myth out there. It’s the idea that technology is a magical fix to all their problems.
Here’s what I mean.
There are a lot of teachers out there who think that technology is just the new replacement for textbooks. They substitute a printed worksheet for an online worksheet. When nothing happens, they grumble and complain and say that the technology is useless.
Here’s the truth.
Technology is not a magic bullet that makes all of our problems go away.
Technology is a tool used to enhance and supplement what we do: educate young people.
Let me give you an example.
IXL is a wonderful online tool for English and Math instruction, and early science and social studies. The platform has exercises for all sorts of standards within each content area. As students work through the exercise, questions get progressively more difficult to help students build on what they already know. There are explanations when they miss questions to help them learn. I could go on and on and on about everything it does, but that’s not my point. The point is, it’s a great tool that is really beneficial to students. But it has to be used right.
When our school system first purchased IXL, we were all given log-ins and a little bit of training for it. However, as I’ve come to learn a few years later, not all classrooms utilized it in the same way. In many classes, teachers simply assigned exercises to students and had them work all class period on them. Long story short, that’s not the point of IXL. The end result is that students became increasingly frustrated with the platform because it wasn’t being used the way it was intended.
IXL isn’t the only tool like that. Any given technology can be easily misused if teachers aren’t using them to their intended purpose. It’s the same way as given students a textbook and telling them to reading and answer the questions at the end. It’s not going to be effective.
I’ve heard a saying somewhere, I don’t know who it originally came from, that says for every dollar you spend on technology, you should spend three on professional learning. It’s true. If you don’t properly train teachers in how to use new technologies, then you can pretty much bet that it’s not going to get used right.
That being said, learn about things before you try them in class. Do your own professional learning. Don’t just use technology for technology’s sake. Figure out what you want students to accomplish. Then find the proper tools to help them out. There are so many out there. You just have to find the right tool for the right objective.