Does Your School Need Better Technology Or Better Thinking?

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Does Your School Need Better Technology Or Better Thinking?

by TeachThought Staff

Using technology to enhance learning is an incredibly exciting idea, and as an area of education is growing fast.

Blended learning, mobile learning, connectivism, and other increasingly popular ideas all owe their existence to technology. But the reality in the majority of public schools in the United States is less than cutting edge. While there is little data available to pinpoint exactly what is being done where, five of the more common applications of technology in the classroom appear below.

The unfortunate reality here is that in lieu of significant progress in how technology is used in the learning process, significant work remains to do a better job understanding how these tools can function to increase depth of knowledge, learning curiosity, and critical thinking skills.

Below we look at five of the most common uses of technology in the classroom: websites/social media, computer-based reading programs, computer-based assessment, and laptops/iPads. Then we take a look at some of the most common problems with each one.

5 Examples Of Misusing The Technology You Already Have 

1. Websites and social media allow students to research and teachers to share–not only lessons plans, but digital resources, assessment data, and even whole-group, away-from-school communication (see The Flipped Classroom). Podcasts, multimedia such as music and YouTube videos, and other digital tools can be accessed here as well.

(See 10 Social Media Sites For Education for further reading.)

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The Problem: The internet holds within it the biggest bulk of facts, data, and information a student needs to consistently access. While this isn’t knowledge or wisdom, it’s a start. The problem is access is so often tethered by district filters or well-intentioned restrictive curriculum maps that a set of encyclopedias might’ve functioned just as well.

2. Reading levels (e.g., Lexile) are monitored via computer-based reading programs.

The Problem: Readers, especially struggling readers, can often make significant gains in reading level throughout a year. The bad news is that many of these gains come not from wholesale improvements in literacy, but becoming better at the reading test itself, or more concerted effort to “score higher.”

Worse, using a $1500 computer to take a reading test is a special kind of irony. It’s not innovative, not learner-centered, and probably not what the local bank had in mind when they donated $50,000 for the lab three years ago.

3. Computer-based standardized tests from third-party vendors help are given during the year to predict performance on the end-of-the-year state test.

The Problem: While offering piles of data and a rough picture of a student’s academic deficiencies, standardized tests carry huge clout in most public school districts, and success (and failure) here can mean everything. But if the data that is produced is overwhelming to skillfully analyze and revise planned learning as a result, what’s the point?

4. In the classroom, teachers are using smartboards and clickers to not simply engage students, but to offer more diverse platforms for students to work with new ideas and demonstrate understanding. Many of these tools also allow the teacher to garner data in real-time, which not only saves time (less grading), but more critically offers the student immediate feedback that is often easier for them to interpret than nebulous teacher feedback.

The Problem: They’re smartboards and clickers. We can do better, can’t we?

5. iPads and laptops have the potential to make information and resources immediately accessible to learners, and while that was always the case with textbooks, technology makes this information more easily searchable, richer with multimedia, and potentially social beyond the classroom.

The Problem: Teachers often lack the time or the resources to fully integrate iPads and laptops meaningfully, with one doing the work of the other, and little gains made over what was possible with desktops ten years ago. It is this approach that arms the naysayers in your department with justified criticism of the expense and complexity of proper technology integration.

Image attribution flickr user sanjoselibrary; Does Your School Need Better Technology Or Better Thinking?

18 Comments
  1. Mariam Rahaman says

    what are your opinions on the newly reformed UK national curriculum 2015?

    1. terryheick says

      I must admit to not knowing enough to answer.

      1. Mariam Rahaman says

        click on https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/reforming-qualifications-and-the-curriculum-to-better-prepare-pupils-for-life-after-school to access the newly reformed National curriculum policy and give your opinion on it and the impact on Technology

  2. Omotayo Koiki says

    The national curriculum was established to cater for every pupil including those with special educational needs. The changes in the area of computing and technology is very notable; because every aspect of life is computerised and computational thinking is applied. The new curriculum suggests the use of computer language/code, algarithms etc from early stage of learning.To make learning easy, it is important to connect learning activities to real – life experience so as to enhance learning.

    The display of images on the screen using powerpoint, video clips and youtube videos via the internet backed up with “familiar” music in the background most of the time attract the attention of average student and make them wanting to learn. The application and use of technology to teach in the classroom offer many children the opportunity to focus and concentrate on tasks, make researches in class and to carry out their homework.

    The popular use of social networking such as facebook, instagram, Xbox, twitter and mobile phones has made the act of sharing resources and information amongst the students/youths so easy and fast. Having said that it is not an easy task to get children (especially those with SEN) used to the computing language, programming and vocabulary as proposed by the government.

    Not all the resources for teaching computing are high-tech, nor even computerised. It will still take some time before the teaching of computing and technology reaches the government’s expected level whereby the general training that we teachers are expected to give to the students/youths to make them not only good citizens to the society, useful and helpful to themselves but also for them to be directly employable by future employers.

    1. Mariam Rahaman says

      Thanks for your detailed analysis omotayo of the new reformed curriculum, but do you think starting from age 4 or so is reasonable?

  3. Mariam Rahaman says

    Thanks for your detailed analysis of the new reformed curriculum, but do you think starting from age 4 or so is reasonable?

  4. […] post Does Your School Need Better Technology Or Better Thinking? appeared first on […]

  5. […] 5 Common Uses Of Technology In The Classroom & How We Screw Them Up  […]

  6. […] Posted onFebruary 7, 2017Authoradmin […]

  7. […] Using technology to enhance learning is an incredibly exciting idea, and as an area of education is growing fast. Blended learning, mobile learning, connectivism, and other increasingly popular ideas all owe their existence to technology. But the reality in the majority of public schools in the United States is less than cutting edge. While there is little data available to pinpoint exactly what is being done where, five of the more common applications of technology in the classroom appear below.  […]

  8. […] Using technology to enhance learning is an incredibly exciting idea, and as an area of education is growing fast.Blended learning, mobile learning, connectivism, and other increasingly popular ideas all owe their existence to technology. But the reality in the majority of public schools in the United States is less than cutting edge. While there is little data available to pinpoint exactly what is being done where, five of the more common applications of technology in the classroom appear below.The unfortunate reality here is that in lieu of significant progress in how technology is used in the learning process, significant work remains to do a better job understanding how these tools can function to increase depth of knowledge, learning curiosity, and critical thinking skills.Below we look at five of the most common uses of technology in the classroom: websites/social media, computer-based reading programs, computer-based assessment, and laptops/iPads. Then we take a look at some of the most common problems with each one.  […]

  9. Karen Waddell says

    Thanks for your reliable info..

  10. Yelbir Kazhykarim says

    In my limited experience, the problem with introducing technology in schools mainly comes from teacher resistance. It is important to realize there are good reasons such resistance exists. Practicing teachers usually see much more clearly than people promoting the technology that the problem has nothing to do with the way one teaches the material. Teachers have time limits, have formal program requirements, have tons of paperwork and all sorts of other commitments. Quickly and effectively learning a new technological solution is very difficult for them (at best). As a result, they often find it easier to just keep on teaching the old way. Also, they are simply suspicious of everything new. All that leads to schools and teachers refusing to accept the new technology, let alone learn to use it effectively.

  11. […] Source: Does Your School Need Better Technology Or Better Thinking? […]

  12. […] CATEGORIES CRITICAL THINKING BLOOM’S TAXONOMY INQUIRY QUESTIONING STRATEGIES LEARNING BLENDED & FLIPPED LEARNING PERSONALIZED LEARNING PROJECT-BASED LEARNING SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING TEACHING ASSESSMENT INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES LITERACY STUDENT ENGAGEMENT THE FUTURE OF LEARNING TECHNOLOGY DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP DISRUPTION & INNOVATION TRENDS & SHIFTS PROF DEV PODCAST NEWSLETTER INFORMATION AUTHORS TERMS OF USE OUR PRIVACY POLICY ASK TEACHTHOUGHT RECOMMENDED BOOKS SUBSCRIBE INDEX MAIN ADVERTISE FOR PARENTS  February 7, 2017 Does Your School Need Better Technology Or Better Thinking? 426 SHARES FacebookTwitterPinterest  Does Your School Need Better Technology Or Better Thinking? by TeachThought Staff Using technology to enhance learning is an incredibly exciting idea, and as an area of education is growing fast. Blended learning, mobile learning, connectivism, and other increasingly popular ideas all owe their existence to technology. But the reality in the majority of public schools in the United States is less than cutting edge. While there is little data available to pinpoint exactly what is being done where, five of the more common applications of technology in the classroom appear below.  […]

  13. Natasha Garza says

    As a teacher myself, I didn’t want to waist time trying to teach students to use the technology and then learn the content that I was teaching. At first it truly had to be a commitment on my part. So one day I decided to try out using iPads in one class. I chose a class that I felt had more experience with technology so that they may follow my directions easier. Then once they got it and began using their iPads in class 90 percent of the time, I realized this was worth it. For me I facilitated learning. I guided, and my students learned. Before I knew it all my classes were using technology to the fullest, and I could see the benefits. The problem is that teachers are pressured so much that they are afraid to the time and deviate from what they believe is working.

  14. […] Does Your School Need Better Technology Or Better Thinking? […]

  15. […] huh? 4. One person’s control valve is the next person’s bottleneck. 5. Anybody but you. 6. 7. 5 Common Uses Of Technology In The Classroom & How We Screw Them Up. Does Your School Need Better Technology Or Better […]

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