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Technology for Technology's sake

Technology for Technology's sake

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I've been talking with many colleagues at my school about the recent push for technology in our district and the risk of it being ineffective. How do you make decisions about when to use technology and when to use more "traditional" means? Or do you feel like technology can be 100% integrated into your curriculum? (I teach 5th grade and would love for some elem teachers to chime in, too!)

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Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

Hi Mrs M,
That's the million dollar (and in some cases, a lot more!) question, isn't it? The good thing is that you are having this discussion now - before you've rolled out the technology.

In short, I think the answer to your questions lies in your philosophical and pedagogical approach. Once you have identified what good learning 'looks' like - what students are doing when they are learning, what teachers' roles are, and so on, the question then devolves to asking what format best supports that model.

I recommend looking into the SAMR model for technology integration:

Elisabeth Jaffe's picture
Elisabeth Jaffe
eleventh grade mathematics teacher from New York, NY

I completely agree that sometimes we push so hard for technology that we don't use it to improve learning, but rather for the simple reason that we want to do something new and innovative. I just got iClickers (a classroom response system). Originally, I thought it would be a disaster, but I have found innovative and USEFUL ways to use them. Instead of just giving students a new toy; I am able to start in depth discussions and measure their understanding of concepts. This does not always happen with every technology. I admit that most of me is very happy with a whiteboard and markers.

Sam's picture

I agree with Keith--much depends on the philosophical and pedagogical underpinnings of your teaching. For example, in Waldorf education, their approach to child development precludes technology from the classroom, especially in the lower grades.

The important thing, I think, is not to chase after a fad. Technology is seen as the solution to every problem, and while it can be a big help, it can also be a hindrance, especially if there's no planning or structure in its use. It's good that you're thinking about this early.

There are successes though and examples of what's possible. Edutopia's own Schools That Work series is a good place to look for articles focused on Technology Integration. Check it out:[]=264&vfas=edit-...

PrincipalCross's picture
Principal at Legacy Academy iSchool

I believe that not only can you integrate technology fully, but you eventually can push past the integration phase and make technology essential to your day. Think about when we went to the moon. We had to invent technology that allowed us to make it there. Soon technology will be just as important in education as it is in business. I see a time in the near future where schools without tech will fall behind.

As soon as we start teaching the right things at least...

Bob Barboza's picture
Bob Barboza
Bob Barboza, Founder of Super School K12 International University

Thank you for this post. We are working on some new K-8 action research in this area. It appears to be very difficult to find just the right balance of good first teaching and technology integration. We feel that it is important to keep moving in the direction of finding the right balance. Our STEM, STEAM and STEAM plus projects will require careful technology integration in order to make the advances necessary to secure our future. What are your thoughts?

PrincipalCross's picture
Principal at Legacy Academy iSchool

I think at the heart of this discussion should be the concept of prerequisite knowledge. The reason that we don't fully integrate classrooms is largely due to the lack of educators with the ability to utilize technology at this level. Over time, the more we train students to use tech as part of everything they do, they will teach that way and we will eventually see the benefits. Currently the minute an obstacle is hit with technology we revert back to the old way of doing things, and those old ways will never increase our students intellectual productivity.

J S's picture

That is a great question! I think technology adds to our students' experiences and gives them more opportunities. That being said, make sure you aren't using technology for the sake of technology. Instead of asking "How can I use technology to teach this?" think, "How would I teach this and can technology add to it?" Our students are going to be expected to use technology in the future, so it is important to start now! You absolutely can integrate technology fully into your classroom, just start small. Add more and more as you get more experienced. It'll be great!

Maureen Rhodin's picture
Maureen Rhodin
District Data Manager / Piedmont Unifited School District

Being on the leading edge is exciting and exhilarating! It is also an expensive "desire" when simple tools can produce great results. Great teachers are great teachers--tech or no tech. The key to tech success is the engagement of teachers in the discussions and decisions of what tools to bring to the classroom and why. Teachers need to have an active voice around classroom technology. But how do you figure out what you want or need? Attend tech conferences, check out social media, check-in to edutopia, share and showcase what teachers are doing in the district now, collaborate on new found tools, develop tech moments at staff meetings, etc.. These activities can be not only educational, but also inspiring and motivating. I've found some amazing elementary postings on Pinterest (you can search by grade level) and check out

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