Technology’s primary effect is to amplify human forces, so in education, technologies amplify whatever pedagogical capacity is already there.– Kentaro Toyama, 2015
Another calendar year has come to its end, while another academic year is halfway through. On a personal level, we think of rewards and regrets. At a vocational level, we consider what we have accomplished so far and what we can do differently in the remaining time.
During this academic year, we reflected on our instructional methods that could use some refinement. We tried to tackle our “bad habit” of the mere presentation of the whereabouts of our knowledge field. We have grown wiser through our familiarization with several strategies that bring us closer to our mission as educators.
In this direction, we embarked upon IB Approaches to Teaching and Learning (ATLs) and Teaching and Learning in a Project-Based World so we could shed some light on abstract educational theories and get to know the contemporary trends in instruction. We also indulged in “the art of questioning” – a question can be an excellent tool in the hands of the instructor if they can manage it properly, both in general and within ATLs.
One standard New Year’s resolution for educators involves more technology integration in our classroom. Although we always keep this in mind, whether we discuss the implementation of ATLs or the utilization of questions, it is a crucial issue for educators that deserves to be separately addressed.
We live in a modern world in which technology advances at an inconceivable rate. Many of us try to frantically grasp as many technological developments as possible and put them into use day after day. At the same time, in the same school, a substantial part of the educational community still struggles with the integration of the most basic technological tools.
It’s more than easy to pass judgment – and we do. The first group (technology lovers) wonders what age their not-so-into-technology colleagues live in. The second group is frustrated with the colleagues that spend a considerable amount of their contact hours using gadgets and apps. “All in good measure” – that’s the answer for the use of technology in educational contexts.
Let’s start with teachers that are skeptical about technology. They may feel they are “too old for this” or may just believe that technology undermines proper instruction. It is reasonable to resist changing the tested practices that have served you well throughout your teaching years. These practices involve both classroom procedures and means for delivering each lesson (Bitner & Bitner, 2002) and re-organizing them can seem overwhelming.
However, if our traditional teaching paradigm doesn’t organically integrate technology, we may need to consider the people on the receiving end of our lessons: digital natives, aka our students. Dealing year after year with the newest generations of students makes it mandatory for us to adjust; technology is part of the environment they were born into and the road they have traveled ever since. Their attitudes towards us and our lessons can to a great extent be affected by the accommodation of technology in the classroom.
The other end involves the teachers that are thrilled with technology and don’t miss a chance to bring it into the classroom. From presentations to simulations and from videos to podcasts, they are all about new technological trends. Undoubtedly students get along with this strategy; is that because they’re amazed by the form or the content of our instruction?
Balancing this excitement about technology is important, though. Our goodwill to bring innovation in our classroom may occasionally undermine our original teaching and learning goals. In educational contexts, we should be focused on how technology will complement our existing goals. If we get carried away by the marvelous things technology can do, we lose the focus of instruction, and we disorientate our students.
It’s easy to get lost in technology – and this hazard is real for both educators and students, experts and novices. What is the golden balance between no technology and too much technology in the classroom? This puzzle can be answered through the proper use of Educational Technology (EdTech).
The meaning behind EdTech has changed dynamically over the past few decades, integrating the developments in educational theories and technological applications. A rather recent definition suggests that “Educational Technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources” (Association for Educational Communications and Technology, 2008, p.81).
In other words, the use of technology should be very focused in order to be considered educational. To be in line with these requirements, we can start by narrowing down our technological options to education-specific tools. Still, even this list is quite long. Reflect on your goals and then stick to the options that can work round the clock and round the year for you. Some variety is fine, but you could really use a teacher’s companion that would serve as many as possible of your pursuits; before, during and after instruction.
Before introducing any tools to the class, mastering them is crucial (Gorder, 2008). Start with picking a tool that feels accessible to you – begin just beyond your comfort zone. The right tools will help you get the hang of the platform you choose easily, either with an automated tutorial, or personalized support from their customer team. You can take it step-by-step and gain the skills and confidence you need. If you consider yourself an expert on technology, a short training period will unlock extra features that you couldn’t have guessed.
Once you have selected your EdTech tool and you know how to use it, prepare specific activities with which the resource can be seamlessly integrated. And don’t forget – its role is to help you reach your educational goals and not to demonstrate how cool technology is per se. Following a pre-decided plan gives you the determination you need to firmly handle technology for your educational purposes only. This restricting framework can support teachers that are just now taking their first steps in EdTech integration, but it can also help enthusiasts to keep the use of technology under control and most effective.
If your goals relate to the improvement of questioning in your classroom in the light of ATLs, PBL or other innovative educational strategies, you can find a great fit within the proper, all-inclusive tool: discover useful pieces of content, set focused topics for discussion, and welcome your students’ inquiry. You can start taking advantage of EdTech with the 100mentors app today – and make your New Year’s resolution come true.
Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (2008). Educational technology : a definition with commentary (A. Januszewski & M. Molenda, Eds.). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Bitner, N., & Bitner, J. (2002). Integrating Technology into the Classroom: Eight Keys to Success. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 10(1), 95–100.
Gorder, L. M. (2008). A Study of Teacher Perceptions of Instructional Technology Integration in the Classroom. The Delta Pi Epsilon Journal, L(2), 63–76.
Toyama, K. (2015). Why Technology Alone Won’t Fix Schools – The Atlantic. Retrieved January 22, 2020, from The Atlantic website: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/06/why-technology-alone-wont-fix-schools/394727/