I am almost always engaged in some sort of thought about education and technology picking my way through the nuances of going about connecting strong education practices with effective technology integration. Strong education practices may be known as best practices in education. Strong practices include classroom inquiry, open-ended questions, formative measures, authentic summative measures, and homework that matters. Without effective teaching practices, infusing technology becomes a toy rather than a tool. Technology should be the tool and tools should be used often, and when teachers integrate technology often, students see it as the preferred method of gaining access to the “sum of human knowledge” (Will Richardson) and portraying their understanding of content digitally. Now, not all students will want to use digital means to display what they have learned and transformed their understanding.
Recently I taught tech in an 8th grade science classroom and, going into it, my honest thought was that every kid would want to use the netbooks available to them. As I circled the classroom several times I noticed students who preferred paper over netbook. I was intrigued by this and asked why paper was preferred. Perhaps it is a tactile thing? Whatever the reason, every student has a preference while learning, and I had to stop myself from saying the netbooks had to be used. Upon stopping myself, and reflecting on my need to use technology, I respected the student who chose his or her preferred learning style. How does this relate to the opening sentence of this blog post? Effective technology integration is respecting the student who still chooses to use paper and pencil despite the clear technological advantage. Effective integration is planning for students who choose a different path.
One thing I do know is that students are more engaged in learning through technology. How might students react if we took away their tech to learn?