5 Common Mistakes to Avoid with Classroom Technology Integration
Educational technology can enhance teaching efficiency and improve learner outcomes. Those lofty goals are achievable with the right tools, but all too often administrators rely on technology alone to make big changes in the classroom. Technology, although a potentially powerful partner of educators, is merely the vehicle of improved student learning. Teachers and staff are the drivers.
If you are in the process of classroom technology integration, here are some things to think about. While they are not hard and fast rules, they are common mistakes educators make when developing new initiatives around edtech. Keep them in mind when deciding what's best for your teaching staff and the students they are tasked with educating.
1. Not Providing Students With Choices
Educators work diligently to enhance student engagement. As it turns out, ownership over school-based projects can pique learner interest. One way to develop a sense of ownership is to give students some agency over their educational direction and materials. Of course, there's a strict curriculum to follow, but by giving learners options on how to engage with the prescribed lessons, results may be improved.
Technology is one such tool to help students self-direct their lessons. As teachers know, there is rarely a "one size fits all" approach that works for every student. That's true for traditional and technology-based teaching methodologies. By giving students the option to choose their learning style, technology is not wasted on those who prefer traditional methods. It's saved for those students who can most benefit from these new, innovative styles.
Choice-based learning has certain parameters. Students start with the same lesson, but progress to a self-directed part of the day where they apply what they have learned. By implementing carefully thought out choice-based options throughout the district, you can make more effective use of educational technology.
2. Not Offering Students Opportunities to Use Their Voice
When taking part in classroom technology integration, it’s important that students feel a connection to their learning material. The chance to express their points of view on the subjects they learn can help enhance this interest. There is also tremendous benefit in encouraging students to speak up for themselves. It leads to feelings of independence and confidence, especially when done in a supportive environment. Those attributes lead to greater scholastic and athletic achievement.
There are many ways educators can encourage student independence and, at the same time, make effective use of edtech. They can choose their own assignment topics. On a broader level, they should be engaged in individual discussions about their education. For example, a student with an individualized education plan should be asked for input on how it's going from their perspective.
Notably, education technology contains valuable data that can be used to improve an individual student program. Students should be able to analyze and engage with this data along with their educators, so they can better understand areas of strength and challenge. That way, they will be more amenable to making changes to their coursework to improve performance.
3. Not Using a Learning Management System (LMS)
Student choice and agency are important, but at the end of the day educators need to assess the results of those initiatives. Implementing technology, such as web-based lessons, without appropriate data collection falls short of using the potential of edtech.
A learning management system is a step above simple online learning. It helps educators develop lessons, modules and assessments, while tracking student progress. There is a range of options available, but most schools want some way of assigning and tracking work of each student. Knowing important student data—for example, not just knowing that each learner got to the end of a problem but how they got there—is one of the most powerful tools of edtech.
4. Using Technology for Technology's Sake
To be most effective for learning enhancement, there must be a clear objective for the use of technology in the classroom. Automating assignment submission and making reading materials digital instead of paper-based may make life simpler from an administrative perspective. But these do little to understand student learning pathways or to engage students in deeper forms of learning.
The SAMR model offers a range of possibilities for the implementation of technology in the classroom. Substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition are the four categories. The first two represent traditional learning methods simply taking a different form. The second two represent new lessons that were previously impossible without technology. This model is a useful way for educators to clearly define the purpose of their edtech, and build their methodologies around it.
5. Allowing Technology to Take Precedence Over Student Learning
As a result of the rush to make time in school more like time outside the classroom—with more technology and digital media—some experts have argued less is more when it comes to edtech. Indeed, it seems educational technology is most effective when it is purpose-driven. For example, just because there is "an app for that," which a district can implement in all of its schools, doesn't mean the app is necessary. The focus should always be on what is best for student learning. Regular assessment of these tools can let educators know what belongs in school and what is simply a useless gadget.
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