The Five Truths of Technology in Education. (Or what I learned by admitting I knew nothing Jon Snow)

The technology should become an integral part of how the classroom functions — as accessible as all other classroom tools.” — National Educational Technology Standards for Students, International Society for Technology in Education

I confess I had a very different view of technology in the classroom prior to the active work we did in this project. Previously I had viewed technology as a stand out feature in the classroom. The technology would come out and we would all take a moment to marvel in its amazing ness, then attempt to manipulate it into doing what we wanted, while often problem solving on the spot. It was new, we were new to it, and using it in the classroom was a necessity because technology is going to be a part of every students life in the future. However, my tune changed both because of the frequency of use with the iPads consistently avaliable, and because of something our district principal of technology Glen Posey said. “Technology should be no more intrusive, jarring, or out of place in the classroom then a pencil and a paper. It is a tool, and it should function seamlessly as a tool.”

Well obviously…now that he pointed it out! The way I treated tech as an educator meant that the technology was stopping the flow of learning to take a moment to bow. So I began to research effective technology use and how I could better let it be the tool it was meant to be to allow the learning to be amplified. I went through many sites and read many articles and discovered, I was way out of date. On of the top blogs I read on proper intergration was a piece from Edtopia from 2007! What is Successful Technology Intergration? I was not prepared to be this out of touch, especially when I had thought, up until the moment Glen dropped the mic, that I was fairly tech savy. So here is what i learnt in an effort to catch up and move forward.

  1. At the center of tech use, or any other methodology you find the students.

This means the tech or whatever else you bring in should be used in a way that supports what the students are doing, is easily accessible (meaning that it is not only avaliable but also that they know how to use the app, blog, program you are working with.

2. Never assume prior knowledge

This goes for the teacher and the student, unless you learnt the program recently, or taught it recently, brush up and be ready to give at least a quick recap. If the kids or the teacher don’t really understand how the technology works, it begins to soak up all the learning time while you figure it out together, and while there is a time and place for investigating technology together, and playing around, it should not consistently happen during the lesson.

3. Charge it!

I have been caught here a few times. We are already to go and I forgot to plug in the technology and we have some iPads ready to go while others have 20 minutes of battery life left. Enough said.

4. Teach a variety of skills early to increase the seemless intergration of technology later.

I think if I could go back in time I would outline the 5 to 8 different apps or programs I intended to use over the semester and use them all within the first week in a variety of ways to build cofidence, work out the kinks and add to the technology tool kit of the students. I believe they would then feel much more independent when it came to choosing methods to learn, or show their learning. Instead I have often taught students something new, then expected that they would use this new technology to create a new deliverable. If we instead taught the technology early I wonder if the students would choose the technology they needed more diversity.

5. Use education technology sites to find great new ways of using technology.

Some of the best apps and programs I found came because I was researching technology intergration in the classroom, (again I’m looking at you Edtopia). Simply by dipping your toe into the world of tech, and coming in with an open mind and a willingness to try, you can find outstanding resources. Below is a list of some of the favourites we either used of have quest up for next time.

Survey monkey

This is an amazing app that allows students to create polls and obtain the data from those polls. Further, it will print QR codes that let students gain interest in what this may be.

Inspiration Maps

Though this is a lite version and you can pay to upgrade, it’s is still a very powerful mind mapping app that teaches you how to diliniate by colour, and idea. It’s practicle and fun.

Canva

This app is like having a graphic artist as a friend who gives you really great advice, then takes over and does it for you. Amazing. It allows you to create posters, blog posts and numerous other pieces with 100’s of free templates balanced and eye catching.

Padlet

In the words of Padlet; “Padlet is an online virtual “bulletin” board, where students and teachers can collaborate, reflect, share links and pictures, in a secure location. Padlet allows users to create a hidden wall with a custom URL.” It’s super cool, and this is one of those ones I wished I had learnt and experiemented with earlier because I can see so much potential to share ideas and help organize themse of discussions, plans, or a variety of other needs.

Trello

This is my future focus. This app allows students, or teachers, to break a project down by its components, (that they self select), move things to complete, and manage they entire piece. It also lets the teacher see where every kid is in that process. We began using this in another school and I could walk in open Trello and have a conversation with the students about the process they were currently working through…because I could see it! Amazing

Some others we used and love Explain Everything, TedTalks, and of course One Note. I am currently using the iPads in another class and we are producing Stop Motion films. This is an ESL class, we learned about the power of the Narative from a First People’s perspective and now each student is telling the oral tradition of their home Country, their decision to come to Canada, and their life here now. They can choose to narrate over it in their native language, and put English subtitles, or rever it and speak in English while using their native language as sub titles. It is so easy to do, (though time consuming), incredibly fun and it gives the students so much confidence.