I have a reputation for being “techy,” that is absolutely true. I am an early adopter. I like to play and experiment with new tools. However, people are often surprised to hear that my classes are not “all tech all the time.” I have a more hybrid classroom – sometimes we use tech and sometimes it’s all about paper and pencil.
The reality is that I advocate a model of adoption that is about enabling the teacher and students in promoting learning. You do this by assessing the tools you need in your learning environment. The definition of a tool is 1. a) a device that aids in accomplishing a task and b) something (as an instrument or apparatus) used in performing an operation or necessary in the practice of a vocation or profession. As such, it is imperative to asses whether or a particular tool (hardware, software, etc.) will aid or hinder your teaching goals and objectives.
Before I adopt any type of new technology, I ask myself these questions:
- Does it make my life easier somehow (save time, save space, save energy)?
- Is it easy to use (my students and I are both too busy to invest a lot of time in a new tool)?
- Does it make the learning better?
If this answer is not “yes” to at least one of these questions, then I will not adopt the tool and I cannot advocate that my peers adopt it either. Our time is precious and our objectives are important. Educators and students simply cannot waste time and energy on ineffective tools.
One of my greatest concerns in the field is using technology for the sake of using technology. We watch schools around us adopting 1:1 programs or BYOD initiatives, see our colleagues employing neat or cool looking assignments, or heck, we kind of want that new iPad (not entirely sure why but it look pretty darn awesome). It’s easy to feel left behind and to get pulled into this realm without actually planning to use these new tools. That is dangerous ground for educators, administrators, and students. Technology tools are expensive and may not work for your educational environment. Therefore, go back to those three questions and really analyze. Ask yourself, will this help with my teaching and the students’ learning, or would a piece of paper be far easier and better? You pick the tools that best work for you.