The adoption and assortment of technology in K-12 classrooms has soared over the past decade, posing challenges for schools tasked with deciding which technologies to introduce into their classrooms. Too often, these conversations around leveraging technology in instruction revolve around the what and how of physical tools — what to acquire and how to use it. However, we need to first start with the why of technology to truly address learning outcomes for all students.
Technology needs to be evaluated and chosen for its ability to engage students in meaningful and productive ways within a culture of accelerated learning. Students who are proficient with digital literacy skills and practices will have the advantage of being flexible and adaptive critical thinkers who can engage with new technology in meaningful and productive ways in every content area.
4 Steps to Integrating Technology with Purpose
The ability to understand our students in more nuanced and holistic ways allows us to better assess and meet their needs for greater differentiation. Before jumping to integrate new tools, we need to first focus on the environment that surrounds and supports the use of that technology. This involves asking questions to determine how technology can address the needs of students and teachers. And there are four steps that will enable this more thoughtful and effective use of new tools.
- Do the research. Researching best practices for learning outcomes should always be the starting point. For example, students have had laptops in the classroom for a long time. Yet research has shown that laptops alone have not made a difference instructionally.
This may be because we have not approached the classroom use of laptops correctly or offered the proper level of professional learning that educators need. But in any case, the use of laptops, in and of itself, has not proven to be an adequate solution for student success. Consider the research guiding efficacy across the adoption and implementation of any new technologies.