Four Reasons to Use a New Technology Tool…And One Reason Not To
New technology tools flood my inbox and Twitter feed daily. I could probably spend a full day each week exploring new tools with students and still not cover half of them. So, how do you decide whether or not to use a new technology tool with your students? What is worth their time?
Here are four reasons to use a new technology…and one reason not to:
1. It makes learning more authentic. – Some technology tools help you find an audience for student work. Whether it’s writing, reading, or an online project, a technology tool that helps students reach a real audience will increase their effort. Students working with a purpose create higher quality work because they know others will see it. Student blogs are a great example of this.
2. It increases student engagement. – Some technology tools are simply a substitution for a piece of paper and a pencil. It’s the lowest level of technology integration, but it’s not always bad! Taking a boring worksheet and turning it into a boring pdf doesn’t help, but if students will be more highly motivated to practice their multiplication facts with an online game, go for it! It’s not higher-level thinking, but it’s a skill they must have to succeed in the future.
3. It makes the impossible possible. – If a technology tool allows your students to do something they could not otherwise do, it’s probably a winner. Having a video chat with a scientist across the country, typing on the same document with a partner at the same time, and writing code are all examples of things that couldn’t happen without technology. My district recently purchased a Learning Management System (LMS). I learned all about it but did not have a reason to use it with my students. However, when a teacher in another building and I realized we could create a discussion forum accessible to students at both schools, I got onboard.
4. It’s fun to try new things. – If something looks cool, find a few moments to try it. Sometimes it’s hard to see a tool’s potential without seeing it in action. You might end up seeing applications for the tool you had never considered. You also might end up seeing that the tool is a waste of time. Now you know.
But never, never, ever, never use a technology tool…
…to justify the money spent on it. – Comments like, “We paid for this, so we should use it,” are giant red flags! As a teacher, the budget is not your concern; students are. If someone spent money on something you know is a waste, it is not your duty to go down with the ship. Consider trying it once, but abandon anything you know is not benefitting kids.
Good luck with all your technology explorations!