Do EdTech the Right Way

Edtech intro qrThis article originally appears in the @OECTA Magazine found at: http://www.oecta.on.ca/ This article is an example of an interactive article. Because it was distributed in print form, readers were encouraged to download any QR code reader from the Apple App Store, Android Store or use the BlackBerry Smart Tag app to scan codes like the one you see to the left using your tablet or mobile device.

Thinking about taking the next step to integrating technology in your classroom? Experience has shown that there are 3 keys to successful integration of educational technology:

  1. Have a Plan
  2. Use Non-Invasive Technology
  3. Be OK with Trying Again.

The Plan

Having a plan is probably the most critical factor for success when attempting to integrate tech into everyday teaching. The plan can be broken down into 3 key parts:

A – Identify the Overall Expectation from the curriculum that you would like to explore.

B – Identify a non-invasive tech tool that will help facilitate learning based on that expectation.

C – Build in time for trial, error and retrial within the activity.

Always remember that teachers teach students, not curriculum. Avoid the pitfall of being compelled to ‘cover curriculum’ or ‘cover content’. When you begin with the Big Ideas featured at the beginning of each section within any curriculum document, you start with a broad idea that promotes student inquiry. Also avoid ‘covering’ each of the specific expectations and instead invite your students to arrive at those expectations on their own.

You will find over time that your students will meet and exceed all of the specific curriculum expectations. If they do not, then you will have enough evidence to pinpoint which areas of learning require your attention.

Once you have identified the overall expectations, decide on what tools (if any) you will need to facilitate student learning. Will the tool be used to drive content, make student learning visible or assist with a culminating artifact?

What is Non-Invasive Technology?

It has become quite apparent that software companies have turned their focus to education looking for ways to penetrate a relatively unexploited market. In doing so the web has become saturated with a variety of tools and apps that help make learning fun, engaging, visible, measurable and interactive. On the surface this looks like a very good thing, but as teachers we must always remember our responsibility to protect our students. Consider the following before you select your next online tool for the classroom.

1. Is the tool licensed by the ministry or by your school board?

2. Does the tool respect student privacy? What login information is being asked?

3. Does the tool collect invasive amounts of data such as age, geographic location, gender, school name?

4. Does that tool necessitate use of your personal device?

5. Does that tool necessitate parental permission?

6. Does the tool require that you keep pictures, videos or any other data locally on a device?

7. If data is lost, does the tool enable swift recovery?

8. Is there teacher support at your school or board for that particular tool?

There are a great many applications that are powerful learning tools that are completely non-invasive. The key here is to answer the question: What do you want the tech to do? There are numerous non-invasive tools that can explore content, visualize learning, categorize research or consolidate learning through creation of an artifact.

Be OK With Trying Again

Teachers are often hard on themselves when plans seemingly fail when in reality, students have learned in spite of that perceived failure. Be sure to understand that patience for yourself is just as important as patience for your students. Select a tool that is straightforward to implement and even more importantly, straight forward to manage. Establish rules and expectations with your students not for your students. Student-voice should always define the protocols for using any online tool with the guidance of the teacher.

When you select a tool, set a realistic goal about its frequency of use. Attempting to use a tech-tool everyday is very unrealistic. 1-2 times per week is an ideal pace for anyone beginning his or her journey of tech integration.

Below is an example of a simple lesson for Grade 9 Mathematics. It uses 3 tools that are considered non-invasive. 2 tools help deliver content and 1 tool is used to capture student voice, rationale and learning.

Sample Learning Activity

Curriculum Goal: MPM1D – Investigating the Properties of Slope

  1. Have the class view video 1 from Study.com (see link below) and select 5 students to write notes using Todaysmeet.com. Assign 1 other student as the moderator of those notes.
  1. Watch the second video from Khan Academy via YouTube and ask 5 other students to write notes about points made that may not have been made in the original video. Assign 1 other student as the moderator of those notes.
  1. Have a class discussion about which video achieves its goal to introduce slope and why.
  1. Create groupings of 3 and challenge each group to create a tutorial about how to calculate slope. This can be done using paper, tech or any other appropriate means.
  1. Build in time for exploration and dialogue
  1. Attempt to solve real world problems based on lessons learned.
  1. Assess for learning and provide meaningful feedback.

Non-Invasive Tech Tools:

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