Ok finally post number one from #ISTE11. This year I went through the exhibition hall, for more than the 5 minutes I was in there last year. Only really went to see my friends who are venders. I tried to make it through this planned path from each place then out. I TRIED. I had Bob Dillon (@ideaguy42) in tow who just received a huge tech grant so the Doc wanted shop. So as we walked I felt molested (can I say that in an edublog? May get weird searches on analytics now lol). It was so uncomfortable, ladies in French maid costumes or the ones who had this need to touch me or my name tag, but I realized a common theme. The more pushy the sales person the more they would say there product made teaching “easier” or their product was “cool.” Ok, annnnnd?
Is this our goal for technology “easier” or “cool?” Boooooo! Yeah I’m a short cut taker. When you have ADHD tedious things take longer so you have to adapt, but I’m not so sure we are on the right track here. When looking at new technologies, whether something we are buying or that new Web 2.0 tool from a session, we need to ask a few questions:
1. Does it fit into framework of good pedagogy? Think about it, 3D projector “ohhh ahhhh” fancy. Get to wear awesome glasses. But a 3D projector? For?? Football? Oh yeah this is for classroom. If you have one need for this pplllllease tell me. Sometimes the coolest tech is pointless. Waste of money. I don’t know about you, but my district or classroom account doesn’t look like Scrooge McDuck’s vault, diving into gold coins.
2. Does the technology take away real life experiences or add to it? Let’s go back to the 3D projector. Saw an example of a frog that could be dissected. I know so kids opt out of cutting animals, but most don’t. Yeah a class set of frogs is a little expensive but so is he projector. Are kids going to learn more from touching a real heart (or getting that gross pregnant frog with the millions of eggs inside- every class gets one) or from a teacher standing in front of the room showing it on screen?
3. Are the students using the technology or are the teachers? Yeah I know, we want the short cut, but if I was a buyer of technology in a school I would have a hard time saying ok to the purchase of something that never touches the students hands. My mom says a lot “it’s not about you,” I think we need to remember TEACHING IS NOT ABOUT YOU!!!! Its about the kids you see every day. Get over it.
4. Does enhance learning that is already happening? Perfect example of this is “Letters Alive” that I have had on my mind past few weeks (I’ll link it as soon as I get to a computer, blogging mobile here). So you put these flashcards of basic sight words under a document camera and the program not only reads it, the pictures on cards (in 3D, see not all 3D is bad) act out the sentence. At first I thought “cool” then I keep thinking of how this will really help those early learners. When I taught 1st grade there were kids I literally had to act out words for them to understand. Now, they can with out me.
5. Lastly, is it taking something already BAD and making it digital? I see this a lot. It is usually hidden under words like “21st century” or “preparing for future.” Think digital text books. You know the PDF pages that are not open source or used for anything else but book on computer. Waste of money. Or even better, multiple choice test, but done through a computer. (I have to give MC test, but I still not a fan). Let’s not take something that already doesn’t work & put stilettos on it.
Please know there are some great resources out there, I’m sure those who were at #iste11 or followed the tweets have a new amazing list, but don’t be fooled. We need to really think about our students & their learning before adopting what is “easy” and “cool.”