Through decades of training and continual professional development, teachers grow into experienced educators with strong content knowledge and a deep toolbox of pedagogical strategies. In addition, educators spend countless hours establishing a positive and supportive learning climate to ensure the social, emotional and academic development of their students. Despite having so many strengths, many educators still feel trepidation around using educational technology in their practice. I strongly relate to teachers who feel the constant need for self-reflection as I struggle with feeling comfortable or satisfied with the work I am doing. However, it is unfortunate that, with all of the amazing things happening in so many classrooms, teachers feel uncertainty about integrating educational technology into their practice. While self-reflection can be a healthy habit, I worry that many teachers feel they can’t enter into the world of ed tech as they are not confident their journey will be successful. In my humble opinion, I feel the best advice is to dive in!
I worry that many teachers feel they can’t enter into the world of ed tech as they are not confident their journey will be successful.
In the past, many of us struggled with software and digital tools that were difficult to manage in the classroom. There were often positive learning outcomes, but the struggles of using some of the software were real. There were also the logistical challenges of “Where did you save it?!”, collating digital projects and effectively evaluating them for evidence of student learning. However, many teachers persevered using these tools as they saw the competencies their students were acquiring as being very valuable to their holistic development as learners. Flash forward to 2018 and I would suggest that this could be the greatest time in the history of using ed tech. Companies have developed software that is aligned directly with curriculum expectations and have made using these tools easier than ever. Tools available for us here in the DDSB like WeVideo and Soundtrap provide exciting opportunities for students to meet curriculum expectations and develop global competencies. In addition, the introduction of Chromebooks and the use of the G Suite platform provide a streamlined process for students and teachers to access a variety of collaborative tools to augment the learning experience. As teachers, we should take time to recognize that we are experts in content and pedagogical knowledge; therefore, evaluating and infusing modern technological tools into our programming is not as daunting as it may seem. Plus, you can always lean on your Educational Technology Coach for support!
When considering how to implement technology into your programming I suggest starting with exploring both the SAMR and TPACK frameworks. George O’Toole, my friend and fellow Educational Technology Coach, wrote an excellent blog on using the SAMR model when thinking about integrating ed tech. The TPACK model connects with that thinking by acknowledging the strengths teachers have and the intersectionality between content, pedagogy and technological knowledge. From there, selecting one or two tech tools to explore is the best way to evaluate if they will meet the needs of your students. Exploring and playing with these tools is also valuable for your students, as they often have great ideas about how to further their learning or how to take the tasks to the next level. As educators, we are already trained to consider the long view of our programming for students. Therefore, examining educational tools while developing and adjusting your programming for your students aligns nicely with the hard work you are already doing. Plus, I would suggest, that infusing technology into your programming might free up some of your time and allow you to connect with your students on a deeper level.
Hopefully, you can leverage the strengths you already have as a teacher and feel confident diving into using educational technology tools with your students. It is easier than you think and it will add an additional teaching superpower to the infinite list of amazing things you already do!