This past week I was asked the following question by an administrator that went something like this: “How do you know when you are teaching students what they need to know (according to the state standards) and when you are teaching them how to use technology?”
I think this is an excellent question, one that every educator should look at, especially those who love technology. This is something that I think about all the time when preparing activities for the classroom. I would have to say that there is a fine line between teaching what students need to know according to the standards and using technology as tool to teach these important skills.
However, there is a line where both sides need to meet, the techies and those who my not be quite so technically inclined (that is the most polite way I can think of to say it!).
Both sides seem to stray from this line which equates to real learning. Those who are into everything tech are going to try and use technology for every activity possible in the classroom. Sometimes, this means that students are going to need some training in using certain apps and programs. Creating videos is a good example of this. Learning to make a video takes time away from instruction. There is no way around it, but once the students know how to make a video, it is a powerful learning tool. Can the same outcome be reached in the classroom without making a video? Sure it can. Students have been learning without making videos for years, but I have made enough videos with students to see that these kinds of projects engage students at levels that are hard to compete with using more traditional educational practices.
Teachers of this sort, falling on the opposite side of the spectrum as the techies, tend to shun tech projects. Much of this due to a lack of knowledge and fear, as well as the knowledge that their students can still learn using the time tested strategies they have always used.
Here is where the line is drawn. Both camps are correct. Both help students learn, and both may be more similar than each thinks. Just think of what can happen when a seasoned teachers combines those time tested strategies and skills with a technology project that will deeply engage students in learning. Teachers need a little of both worlds to make a successful classroom.
I feel like am just blabbering now, not sure of what I am trying to say. I am just hoping that I am making some sort of sense!
In answer to the administrator who asked me the question, this was my reply:
“I use technology when I know that it can help the students reach their educational goals. Sure, I am going to have to spend some time up front in teaching them how to use certain apps, but I only do this when I know that doing so will pay great dividends in the future.”
It all comes down to thinking before doing. This is what we are trying to get students to do on a daily basis. Rushing into a project without clear goals will only look bad, and probably won’t benefit the students. Using the same old lessons that have been used for the last 20 years probably isn’t the best teaching strategy either.
Teaching students in this crazy tech filled world, a place where things area changing so fast that we can’t eve keep up, is going to take a little of both. Teachers from both sides need to step up to the line.
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