Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Real Integration

Yesterday I watched a room of teachers receiving their iPad Minis and having their first experiences with Apple technology. It was like watching a bunch of 8-year-old children staring at a calculus problem. They couldn’t make heads or tails of what they were doing, and needed handholding through ever little step along the way.

Moments like this always fascinate me. People whose entire existences are dedicated to instructing others and encouraging vast exploration of the unknown are struggling through their own learning experiences and throwing their hands up in frustration as they simply cannot figure out what they’re supposed to do.

Yet, I know these are amazing educators, and some of them have been doing this successfully since I was a baby. I might know more technology than they know, but they are far better teachers than I am. And they struggle every day trying to find a reason to learn a new way of doing what they’re already doing so well. Sometimes they succeed; often they don’t.

And this really gets to the heart of what I believe I am doing with my vast explorations of educational technology. The key word is integration. What I believe integration means is utilizing technology in authentic ways to take what we already do so well and bring it to the next level. Sometimes the technology is simply placed into the classroom just to be there. This is pointless. Sometimes the technology actually takes us a few steps backwards. If we’re trying to get our kids to think deeper, but the tech savvy teacher wants to use fancy online quizzing programs that only grade multiple choice questions, technology is harming the educational experience. When a poster would do just fine, but the students stare blankly for ten minutes as their teacher tries to set something up, the technology is damaging to our goals.

But when used intelligently and authentically, technology can take our classrooms into realms never before imagined. I think when exploring any new technology the teacher needs to always ask these questions: Why am I learning this? Is it worth my time learning this? Will this enhance the learning in my classroom? What is my real motivation for incorporating this into my classroom?

I have learned so many different things over the past few years. God willing I will learn so many more. I just hope and pray that I always have the strength to ensure at all times that the technology I explore is ONLY in my classroom for the right reasons.

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