That is the question many educators are asking themselves these days. The rapid pace of technology is incredible and frequently overstated, but the opportunities for education are many. From flipping to blending to tweeting to blogging, it can all be done through technological advances.
Seven years ago I had a Nokia flip phone and that served me just fine, but today I have an iPhone, iPad, MacBook, twitter account and blog. How did this happen, and is it necessarily a good thing to be so wired, I wonder? In the end, it’s a constant evaluation of the technology and the purpose it’s serving, and what it might be replacing.
My iPhone, for example, is something I use constantly at work with all of the traditional apps for finding directions, and accessing the calendar, my contacts, music, weather, etc. Additionally, the directory app saves me from toting a hard-copy school directory everywhere I go. I also use cardmunch to capture business cards so I no longer actually collect business cards and I also use the notepad to keep lists and notes. For these and so many other uses it’s proven to be better environmentally and helps keep me organized, but I’m also quick to plug it in when I get home at the end of the day so I’m not constantly checking it. It’s a balance, and that’s no different from the classroom.
In introducing technology in the classroom, it’s important to constantly ask the ‘whys’ of the benefits (v. cost, especially) and what the technology may be replacing (for better or for worse). For example, when we introduced a 1:1 laptop program we eliminated the majority of our heavy, outdated texts in favor of eBooks so we were not adding one more thing to a student's already heavy load. We also made sure they were accessible without internet access as we recognize that kids are not constantly plugged in. When we introduced Promethean Boards we kept many of the dry erase boards as we recognized the merits of both.
In the end, though, it’s great teachers that are the soul of the school, and the technology is merely a tool. I read a terrific quote recently that said, “a bad teacher with a lot of technology is just a really expensive bad teacher.” I could not agree more, but having great teachers with supportive technology is a terrific recipe.