Are we asking the right questions about technology?


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Because I’m a tech-friendly individual, colleagues often ask my thoughts on particular digital resources or ask for help finding digital resources. I always hesitate to offer a quick response. I know that many sites offer recommendations because I run across articles and lists such as this one and this one. And I do love looking at different “top picks.” But I always hesitate. I hesitate because I wonder if we are asking the right questions.

I know that a lot of administration is encouraging quick adoption of new technology, which includes devices, software, and/or apps. For example, Padlet and Today’s Meet have swept quickly into many classrooms. And although I do find value in these resources, I just don’t want to introduce and include something in the classroom just for the sake of having technology. But we have to start somewhere, right?

So before answering the question, we should hesitate at least for a moment to pose several more questions.

  1. What is the learning outcome? What is it that I want my students to know and be able to do?
  2. In what ways would using a digital resource augment, modify, or redefine the learning experience? See this article about SAMR.
  3. What support will the students and I need to use this resource?
  4. What challenges might there be to introducing or including this resource into my class?

Just putting a bunch of devices or digital resources into the hands of students (or teachers) is not suddenly going to result in better teaching and more learning. As teachers, we need to be systematic and deliberate about the choices that we make in including technology in our classrooms. We need to recognize that learning is not automatic when using a digital device or resource. Therefore, we need to make sure that we gradually release responsibility to the students and guide them. And we should include our students in the discussion. As they are exploring new technologies, we need to tap their expertise and guide them to ask the questions also. If we are to become a community of learners, we need to ask the right questions and seek the answers together. After all, we are not done learning.