Technology, Friend or Foe?

Remember that survey I sent out a couple of weeks ago?  One question asked teachers to mark all of the areas they wanted to know more about.  Well, the results are in…

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-4-45-26-pmAhhh, technology…friend or foe?   We know that the future will require students to use technology in almost every job they pursue.  As teachers, we want to help prepare them for their futures, right?   And yet, many of us fear technology.  Perhaps we fear the time it will take to learn something new.  (Or maybe we fear trying to remember something we have done before, but cannot remember exactly how…like setting up our gradebooks on IC every semester!) Perhaps we fear we will not be able to figure it out and will end up looking foolish.  Of course, there is also the fear of the unknown…what if we invest time into new technology and realize it is not as useful as we had hoped?

What do we need to consider as we seek ways to incorporate technology into our classrooms?  First of all, good teaching always comes first.  Technology is simply something we have added to our teaching toolboxes.  Technology can obviously help in the way we deliver content and give feedback.  However, these are merely substitutions.  For example, students used to write by hand using paper and pen or they would type and print hard copies for the teacher.  Google Docs is the latest substitution for this “old school” way of doing things. (Okay it isn’t that old school). The teacher once used a red pen on the paper and left feedback, but now uses the commenting and suggesting features in Google Docs. Everything is paperless and the students can immediately view feedback instead of waiting until the papers are handed back in class, but GoogleDocs really only replaces traditional methods with the use described above.

Let’s consider using substitution methods like GoogleDocs, but also expand our thinking beyond this. Our students will use technology to communicate, to inform, to entertain, to explore, to understand, and quite possibly, to change the world. We need to build in activities that allow them to utilize technology daily.  We need to teach them to use this tool to remain informed, productive global citizens in this vastly changing world.  In what ways can we create authentic, real-world activities that allow them to collaborate, to answer their own questions, to raise awareness, to change minds, to broaden perspectives, to take action, and to initiate change?

We will explore this topic for a couple of weeks here on Hart Literacy.  During this time I will provide advice on how to choose the right technology for your students, for your objectives, for your vision.  I also would like to highlight teachers whose students are using technology to explore ideas, to demonstrate learning, and to create products that were previously inconceivable in a traditional classroom setting.   Please let me know if you are one of those brave souls who has ventured into the future…I would love to come in and see your students in action.

Technology can will be your friend…there is no need to fear!