EdTech Isn’t the Lone Savior
Well into my sixth year as an instructional technology resource teacher (ITRT) I have come to realize many things about what technology integration (not simply an add-on) truly means and that educational technology (edtech) isn’t the savior of education. I have seen more edtech tools and software come along than I can remember that have promised to revolutionize education and elevate students to new found levels of achievement and success. This has most recently been evidenced by an overdue clean out of my school email marked by deletion of nearly 100 emails thanking me for subscribing to the next greatest thing. While technology has it’s place, and it is a truly powerful one, there are other aspects of education that must be firmly in place before widespread success can occur in a school building or division.
Many mistakes in integrating technology are made by being lost in the shininess of a new tool or technology and when it is used without the proper foundation. As with any structure, lack of a sound foundation will always lead to eventual failure. One of the first things that must change is the mindset of administration and teachers. Not only is a mindset shift from fixed to growth immensely beneficial, but colinear shift must occur in the way edtech & pedagogy are viewed. Edtech isn’t a savior that will elevate poor teaching or outdated to ground breaking levels, instead it is an enhancer of the great teaching that already occurs in a classroom. Examples can be found everywhere including these examples from a talented 4th grade teacher, Justin Birckbichler. Edtech is used in an ongoing and ubiquitous way that opens the world to students and staff. It is not just elevating a worksheet to the SMART board or adding in a project when less snow days than expected came (yes, I know many are already wishing for white flakes to come) .
Admins. and teachers alike should focus on solidifying sound pedagogy/student centered learning and then aim to truly integrate technology that can truly transform education when coupled with other sound foundation pieces.
Another key area where a shift needs to occur is within professional development. Too often (and I have been guilty of this) professional development focuses on specific tools and simply how to use the tool. Granted it is important to know how to learn the ins and outs of a new tools, but it is exceedingly important to transcend this to show successful integrations of the technology throughout a year. Beyond a great project, how can the technology change the way students have learned in the past? What greater audience are they reaching? Not every technology can have such an impact but all lessons and integrations should be planned in such a way. Plan (SAMR, TPACK) first and foremost with a growth mindset founded in sound pedagogy, then establish your learning target or goal, and finally look to technology to make it possible, easier, more engaging, and/or more innovative.
Never try to change everything at once, start with just one thing and build on success while learning from failures.
Many may read this post and think, yes!, but wait, I can’t (and shouldn’t have to) to do this alone! This couldn’t be more correct. Shifts such as this should start from the top level of a school division and be supported at every other level. However, a shining star can help start such a shift and show the creativity, innovation, and genuinely amazing work that can come from well founded edtech integration. To be that leader you never have to go it alone. Social media, blogs, websites, Google Hangouts, YouTube Live, etc. are all there to support you! Not only myself, but others like @EdTechTom, @Mr_B_Teacher, @MrSchoenbart, @MsVenturino, @ericcurts, and many others are not only willing but happy to help you. More blogs that can help can be found here or here, as well as educational Twitter chats & hashtags. Don’t be afraid to #failforward (1, 2) through #inspiredcreativity and lead the charge to true #edtech integration nor fear asking for a helping hand in collaboration, you may well amaze yourself on your way to being awed by your students.