A recent conversation with a school administrator highlighted for me again the unrealistic expectations that are placed on technology in educational environments. This idea that if we get ______ (insert the most popular technology here), then everything will be better. From student achievement to parent involvement there is this hope that a device, software, or website will fix it all. Remember that I am a “technology in the classroom evangelist” and am not departing from that stance. However, it is important for us to consider two fatal assumptions that have the potential to impact more than just our ability to implement technology, but to disrupt student achievement.
Assumption 1. Knowing how to operate a technology is the same as knowing how to implement the technology.
This operation to implementation gap can be significant for many educators. This is significant because in professional development we tend to pour our resources into learning how to turn on the technology when that is not the most important part. It is more about how you are implementing the technology (with strategy) than the actual technology you are using. Just because you can turn it on doesn’t mean that outcomes will be achieved.
Consider learning how to operate technology with web-based resources. You can do this on your own time at your own pace and revisit it any time that you need a reminder. The reality is that you won’t remember everything you see in a 6 hour PD event anyway. There are a significant number of training videos that are free on youtube and the website of the developers. You can also get access to large repositories of training materials that come at a fee, but the quality is good (for example: atomic learning).
Most importantly, get involved in training events that move you past how to use the technology and into how to use it instructionally. Spectronics does an incredible job with this and has many online resources that you can plug into immediately.
Assumption 2. Forward movement is not possible until the technology arrives.
There is this idea that if I don’t have the technology I need, then I am stuck and cannot teach effectively. I’ve heard this over and over after sessions that I delivered. It starts off like this “Jason, I enjoy all you shared, but I don’t have ___________”. It’s not what you have, it is what you do with what you have.
Remember that technology is secondary to strategy. In planning instruction you start with the content and identify the strategy that is best suited to your learners and the lesson. Then consider what technology will best support the delivery of these strategies. It is not the technology that has the power, it is the strategy behind it. Almost every strategy that we share, you can deliver it with minimal technology. In the words of Roosevelt, “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have”.
Let’s move our field forward by challenging these assumptions and demonstrating in our own work how they can be overcome. If we do, then success for all learners through the effective use of technology will reach the potential that we all thought was possible.