There was a great Twitter discussion last night entitled “Using Technology vs. Innovating with Technology.” Susan M. Bearden @s_bearden facilitated the discussion, which focused on technology integration, and what it means in terms of being an innovative educator. As a PBS Digital Innovator, I thought the discourse was very thought-provoking. There was a general consensus that the use of digital technology was not indicative of an “innovative classroom.”
In other words, any student can be handed an electronic device, but that doesn’t mean the student is learning or engaged. I see examples of this in my own 1:1 iPad classroom. Always looking for ways to be a better teacher (hence, using Twitter for my own professional development), I noticed that technology and engagement are not hand-in-hand. It is how I frame the edtech that counts.
Lessons have to be crafted carefully to minimize distractions beyond that of a paper-and-pencil classroom. I also have to change up apps or tasks on the iPads to make sure I am introducing novelty and increasing chances of student interest. For example: when I’ve used Nearpod, I need to change up my embedded activities, questions, and seek out deeper thinking. I have to remember to stimulate my students’ metacognition.
One teacher’s comments particularly struck me:
“A4 Innovation means letting go of traditional constructs and being open to letting go of some control to change thinking”“A5 Communicate the learning goal clearly w Ss, then let THEM choose the tools and tasks they’ll use to discover. Innovation.”
EdTech Professional Development
The Twitter discussion also highlighted a need for better/more edtech PD for teachers. I would agree with this. I think there is a lot of PD out there, but it has a glass ceiling. In my building, I am asked to help facilitate professional development in edtech with my colleagues, but there is often a lack of PD left for my own further development.
For teachers that want to explore their lessons and how to use tech to bring the students’ experiences to the next level, we don’t need a book of possible apps or to hear about how one speaker applied their knowledge of tech in the field. We don’t need to hear about one or two project-based learning (PBL) experiences.
Ok then, what do we need for great tech PD? In my opinion, we need to get our hands in it. We need to take our lesson plans and amp them up. We need access to and guidance from experts…mentorship. We need a PBL expert to offer us support. It is great to listen and be inspired by others, but if we are not actively practicing and honing our pedagogical and engagement skills, then the PD can only be effective to a point.
If you use Twitter, I encourage you to check out the hashtag above. It will connect you with a great series of posts and discussions about making ourselves better users and innovators of technology!
LMK what you think in the comments below, and have a great day!