Technology in the Classroom: A Reality Check

By Lori Elliott, Ed.D.

The digital natives you teach today are using technology all day and every day. They’ll feel right at home using it in the classroom. But will you?

If you’re not sure if, when, and how to bring technology into your classroom or how to ensure children use it strategically and capably like the Common Core requires, you’ve got lots of company!

We regularly talk with teachers throughout the country at conferences, in seminars, and in training we bring on site. Trust us, technology is on every teacher’s mind. Over and over, we hear the same questions and concerns:

  • Where do I begin when I am seeing close to 23 classes in a week?
  • Do I focus on one app and use it across grade levels to address one standard?
  • I am not tech savvy! What can I do?
  • Is social media that important? If so, how can I use it in my classroom?
  • What if I’m a real newbie... we’re just now getting magnetic whiteboard technology installed!

And the one question we hear most often? How can I use technology if we have very limited resources? There goes the “budget” rearing its angry ahead again.

Few schools have “enough” technology. Budgets are tight. That’s a given. You want it. Everybody does. But you don’t want to make investment mistakes.

This is a valid time to first think about the 6 following questions:

  • 1. Do we have the infrastructure in place? Before buying iPads® or other technology, first look at whether you can support it. For example, do you need wifi? Are there other things to be put into place before actually buying the tools?
  • 2. What kinds of tools should we buy? The answer will change over time. First, determine what you want students to do with the devices. Are the tools you’re considering developmentally appropriate? Elementary and high school students have very different needs, you know.
  • 3. What about buying one set of tools and housing them in the library for check-out? We’ve found that this usually doesn’t work. If teachers have to make arrangements to get technology into students’ hands, it becomes a hassle. They’ve got enough to do as it is.
  • 4. Where will the money come from? The million-dollar question! This may call for re-prioritizing your spending. Could money earmarked for textbooks be applied to technology? Should it?
  • 5. Do we really need one-on-one devices? This may not be possible financially. Could working in teams be feasible? It’s a great way to build collaboration. And save the budget.
  • 6. How can we determine the right mix of tools? Variety is important. Digital games, Skype, apps, online... what are your goals?

For more insight into ways to integrate the best tools with your instruction, check out SDE’s webinar Technology Is the Ticket to Common Core Success by author and educational technology expert Lori Elliott, Ed.D.

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