Monday, February 9, 2015

Are You Sure You Need That New Technology?

Anyone who has read more than one blog post on this blog knows that I am a proponent of technology in the classroom.  I think that each student in each class needs to be using technology to create as often as possible.  However, I have seen a disturbing trend in technology recently.  This trend involves buying new technology because it is new and fancy, not because it is needed, or will even be used.  Often technology is purchased, but not followed through on.  Teachers aren’t trained properly.  Technology isn’t used or does not get maintained.  It begins to gather dust.  Then a new technology comes in and we spend a fortune investing in it while the old technology goes to the scrap metal bin.

We need to use the technology already in our classrooms, not purchase endless new technologies.  Article from Raki's Rad Resources 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge proponent for making sure that every classroom world wide has technology.  Students need technology that allows them to:

- access information available on the internet

- create videos, websites, projects, blog posts etc.

- interact with - learn from and teach to - others around the world

Students don’t NEED the newest technology that just came out – whether we can afford it or not.

When I attended the ECIS Technology Conference in London a few years ago, Marc Prensky reminded us that technology is NOT about having the newest and greatest technology tool.  Using educational technology should be about teaching students how to use technology – whatever technology they have – to expand their learning opportunities, connect with others and create things they couldn’t have created otherwise. 

Buying new technology is expensive and often left underused.  Instead of constantly purchasing new technology, we need to start thinking about how we can use the technology we already have.  Personally, I believe we need to spend more money on training teachers to integrate and better use the technology that is already in their classrooms, rather than buy a new tech tools if the situation doesn’t call for it.  Additionally, teachers need time built into their schedules to explore technologies – new and old - so that they can feel comfortable implementing these technologies in their classroom.

We need more time spent on training and exploring technologies before we use them in our classrooms.  Article from Raki's Rad Resources

We should also be considering how the technology will be used before buying the technology.  If a teacher is only going to be using the technology for students to play games, then students could continue to play those games on a classroom desktop rather than buying new iPads.  However, if the teacher plans to include video creation, app creation or podcasting in their lessons, than they would be using the iPads at a different level and the expense could be better justified. Unfortunately, teachers are rarely involved in the conversation about what technology should be included in their classrooms and we don’t buy technology based on the individual teacher or individual student’s needs.  Because of this, I go back to training.  If we can train our teachers to use their existing technology to the fullest capacity, then both our students and our budgets will benefit.

Most professional development programs are not training our teachers how to integrate.  That is part of the reason that I continue to publish blog posts and resources geared to helping teachers best use the technology they have.  That is the reason that my Internet Scavenger Hunts have three different possible options, allowing them to work if you have laptops, iPads, tablets, or a mixture there of.  That is the reason that my Online Portfolio Program and most of my projects – including my Online Book Report and my Historical People Research Project give teachers (and students) options on what technology they will use to present their information.  That is the reason that I have written blog posts both about Creating Videos on an iPad and Creating Videos on the Computer.  My focus – as a teacher and as a blogger – is to help students and teachers utilize whatever technology they already have to the fullest capacity of that technology.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources