EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY, ONE STEP AT A TIME
Novelist and lyricist Paulo Coelho once said "Sometimes you have to travel a long way to find what is near". I have found this to be true of educational technology. I have taken many long EdTech journeys to find what was near so that your journey is hopefully shorter than it might otherwise be.
Before the start of the 21st century, most teachers didn’t get into the profession thinking that they would have to integrate technology into their teaching. As educators, we are content experts and trained to enable learning. I work with a number of educators today who are superb enablers of learning and know the square root of squat about technology. Hopefully their masterful ways will not be lost as institutes of education enthusiastically encourage the use of technology at the risk of compromising learning. Good pedagogy must always come first.
Today’s reality is that technology in the classroom is here to stay, and in the words of Steve Wheeler, "technology won't replace teachers, but teachers who use technology will probably replace teachers who don't" (Wheeler, 2013).
I have been dabbling in educational technology, from synchronous online learning, blended learning, flipped classrooms, Podcasting, screencasting, student response systems, blogs, wikis, e-portfolios, paperless assignments and more for almost twenty years. When I talk with my techno-timid colleagues, many of them feel overwhelmed by the pressure, either real or perceived, to adopt technologies in their teaching practice. In recent studies, while most teachers seem to have positive attitudes towards educational technology as a pedagogical tool, they feel much less competent about integrating it effectively (Msila, 2015; Ndibalema, 2014)
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed with the volume of technologies, apps and devices aimed to “enhance” learning, especially given that many do very little for advancing/enhancing learning or creating efficiencies. If you’re a novice with technology, my advice is to first think about what it is you want to accomplish. Is it, formative assessments, flipping the classroom or simply supplementing the class with screencasts that cover core concepts? Is it student reflections? Is it writing or reading? Once you’ve established what it is you want to do or improve upon, then look for a technology, preferably free, that will enhance learning or improve efficiency.
Look for a technology, preferably free, that will enhance learning or improve efficiency
Next, employ one new technology at a time, perhaps for a semester or a year to learn it well and maximize its benefit or discover its flaws. At points along the way, check in with your students to see if they like it and if they think it helps.
Employ one new technology at a time
Lastly, develop a peer learning network (PLN) of educational technology enthusiasts. Ask your colleagues for help. Search for blogs on educational technology that can become your go-to sources of edtech info related to the level and area that you teach. Follow Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media members and organizations who are posting edtech topics that interest you.
Develop a peer learning network (PLN) of educational technology enthusiasts
It’s important that all of us as educators explore and employ technologies and learn as much as we can so that we can drive the edtech industry rather than it driving us. The future of edtech needs pedagogical research and advocacy from the experts who understand how learning happens.
Msila, V. (2015). Teacher Readiness and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Use in Classrooms: A South African Case Study. Creative Education,06(18), 1973-1981. doi:10.4236/ce.2015.618202
Ndibalema, N., (2014). Teachers’ Attitudes towards the Use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) as a Pedagogical Tool in Secondary Schools in Tanzania: The Case of Kondoa District. International Journal of Education and Research Vol. 2 No. 2 February 2014. ISSN: 2201-6740 (Online) www.ijern.com
Wheeler, S., (2013). Technology won't replace teachers, but teachers who use technology will probably replace teachers who don't. Retrieved from http://www.steve-wheeler.co.uk/2013/03/technology-wont-replace-teachers-but.html