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Using Tech With Intention

posted Oct 12, 2015, 6:54 AM by Melinda Waffle   [ updated Oct 26, 2015, 7:18 AM ]
Submitted by Craig Steenstra,
Kent Intermediate School District, REMC 8

It is not uncommon for teachers (or schools and districts in some cases) to implement technology without much intention or planning. Another way to put that is people are using tech because they feel like they should, and it may not be tied to effective practice or intended outcomes. This is like trying to capture something while blindfolded, and it leads to problems. I want to explore some of those problems as well as share some ideas on what can be done about them.

Blindfold picture image

Problems 

  1. Lack of consistent implementation across classrooms or grade levels, resulting in a varied experience for students and challenges with analyzing effective practices across an organization.
  2. Lack of preparation or training to facilitate, resulting in ineffective implementation.
  3. Lack of alignment with any research-based practice or existing school/district improvement goals.

Some Options for Addressing Problems

  1. Work in grade level or content-area teams to build common tech-related activities into the curriculum. This will help ensure consistency across classrooms and provide a focus / support structure for teachers. (A key difference between effective integration and just messing around is writing it down).
  2. Use a process (collaborative preferably) to determine what should be used for a given objective (Example: MiExcel Hexagon Tool). This will help ensure that the choices can be supported and meet the identified need.
  3. Choose an existing research-based strategy or existing school improvement goal and add a tech element to it (Example: Marzano Strategies). This will help ensure that activities are rooted in effective practice.

Some people may think that these approaches may limit innovation or stymie creativity. To counter that, I argue that innovation most often occurs as an improvement upon something that already exists. If we are intentional about the tech that we choose, we can build from what we know to be effective and maximize our impact without experimenting with students.

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