Use the Right Tool for the Right Need

As educators, specifically educational technology teachers we have to make sure that the machines, devices and tools we use are used wisely in our districts and schools. I handed my 6 month old my iPhone and he grasped it with ease and looked at the interface briefly with wonder meant and for a second I thought he was taking it in as a device he could use, but as soon as that thought came to my mind the corner of the phone was in his mouth. Not a wise use of the technology in that situation, but he found it useful for his need, just not the right tool or device to meet that need.

As educators we need to use the right tool for the right need.  How often does a district or school buy technology, very lucky in today’s economy I may add, and the technology is either miss used, never used or never used to its potential? I know that monies within schools and districts are categorical and some monies are for this and for that.  In my opinion that needs to change.  Let’s say that a school just bought a cart of iPads with intervention monies and the first thought of using them is to put them in the hands of kinders to use an invention website?  I don’t know about you, but that seems to be an unwise use of the technology. This example is a use, but not the right use. I understand that you are locked into using the machines and equipment with the categorical dollars, but that is the flaw. To have the technology is one thing, using it correctly to its full potential is the key.

Administrators, if you have a technology minded teacher or teachers, then seek them out for advice before decisions are made.  If there is money and the opportunity to get equipment whether it be technology or not, the question should be who would use this technology, tool or equipment to its fullest potential to benefit students or other teachers.  Why give an iPad to a teacher who never checks email only throughout the day on their classroom computer? What are they going to do with it?  I know, maybe if someone showed them how to use they iPad they would be more incline to. Maybe?

This video touches briefly on what I am trying to say. The first person, Denise Clark Pope, speaks about “value added”. Do we have the technology to say we have the technology or do we have the technology to what it is intended to do in the hands that can do it? The rest of the video touches on how and why we can and should use technology in schools.

We have to look at how we use these machines, use online tools once we obtain them, and also how we support teachers. The knee jerk reaction sometimes is to purchase everyone an iPad or Interactive White Board without considering the teacher’s skill level and willingness. Support is key if teachers are willing. We have to make sure there is that support.

Below is the wrong use of the IWB.

Interactive Whiteboard Fail

Photo taken by Ken Shelton

We have to find ways to get teachers involved with the integration of tech. In addition, find ways to motivate teachers by showing the benefits. As we enter in to the Common Core era students will be collaborating, writing online and thinking critically on these online tests. Students are social and prefer to work with others, they socialize and share ideas with one another. They want to use the technology tools that help them do that. Our classrooms have to model that. “One teacher, one admin at a time” is my new motto.

As educators we have to work together and tap into each others strengths. If there is a teacher on campus that pursues cutting edge ways to integrate technology, he or she should be the go to person to consult with before a major purchase or implementation of a program. We need to deliver the right tools and equipment to the right skill level. Teachers that have a low tech skill level and can only handle how to operate a document camera, should be issued a document camera. They should not get a Mobi inter-write board or iPad if it will be a huge learning curve for them.  When frustration sets in, the use goes down. I have seen equipment get shelved because it was bought for everyone. If we say that all of our students are not the same, that also applies to us teachers as well. All teachers do not have the skill level, willingness or support to implement with success and effectiveness. All teachers are not the same. We deliver content different, we handle conflict different and we use technology differently.

Dollars are scarce and its frustrating to see a $500 technology piece sit on someone’s shelf when that money could of been invested in my class. Multiply that by fifteen devices sitting on a shelf in many classrooms. Money sadly wasted when it could have been brilliantly used in another classroom. Yes, I do know how to use technology in the classroom. I would love to add machines and other tech equipment in my room for students in my class to use for their learning if it is not being used in other classrooms.

Education as a whole needs to look at technology and the uses of, but before that we have to determine the need, the execution to meet those needs and what tools are needed while consulting with experts that live and breath edtech. If an admin is not familiar with how to integrate technology, but wants to by iPads so they they can say their school is cutting edge would be a waste.  Without a solid plan to use them effectively in the correct hands is a waste of taxpayer money. Find the expert, get them in on the conversation and value their opinion. If we are asking our students to think critically, why are we not thinking critically ourselves when it comes to spending money, pinpointing needs and problem solving with the best laid plan by/with the experts?

Find an expert on your campus or district and seek their opinion before the next purchase is collecting dust or draped with paper in a classroom in your school.

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  • Jo-Ann Fox

    What? Ask a teacher? ;) Well said, my friend! Thanks for the post.

    • http://www.jasonseliskar.com/ Jason Seliskar

      Thank you Jo-Ann. Thanks for the comment.