Am I Maximizing Device Use?

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Andrew White

In my first post of this unit, Looking in the mirror. What is my tech integration score? I discussed many of the challenges and successes I have had trying to integrate technology in the different roles I have played as a homeroom teacher, specialist teacher and now in my current role as tech coach. I believe that I have always tried hard to make good use of the devices in my classrooms, I even invited students to bring in devices before it was required or supported as a Grade 3 teacher. One aspect of my job now is to help teachers make good use of the devices that their students bring into the classroom for learning. I see iPads and laptops used heavily in the classes that I visit and I am not sure at this point what I will do to help teachers “kick it up a notch” or if it is actually necessary.

 

Although my role at AIS-R is that of Tech Integration Coach I believe in balance. Technology is another tool in the learning toolbox and is appropriate for some things but not for others. It has the power to unleash amazing learning in some students and to bog down others. I do think that it is a very important learning tool not only for it’s potential to expand resources and provide highly engaging ways to apply the knowledge that those resources provide but because technology plays a major role in all facets of our lives. Teaching students to use devices effectively is important to prepare them for the workplace and as a general overall life skill.

 

In the article Would 1 Laptop per Child Help Learning we see the great successes the state of Maine has had in leveling the learning playing field by providing all students with a laptop to support their learning. We don’t face the same challenges with respect to equal access to technology at our school. It is a private school where bringing devices is mandated. Everyone has the necessary technology (although internet access varies depending on where the student lives). The point remains however that access to technology clearly has positive effects on the learning of people in all walks of live. Information is truly transformative.
Having the students bring the device in presents certain issues though. For example, Notability and iMovie are required apps for our iPad users and often families have not purchased or installed these or other necessary and required apps. When I visited the American Embassy School in Delhi, India for the iPad summit I noticed that there were no issues with students who didn’t have apps or that installed apps that were distracting and inappropriate. That’s because the school provided the iPads and installed and managed apps. I am sure there are disadvantages to this and that purchasing this technology is expensive for a school.  As I reflect on where I need to go to improve device use in my school I realize that it is time to move past the particular device. Technology has been integrated into our classrooms at AIS-R for some time now. It is not just about teaching students how to use their iPad. It is about where technology takes us in our learning. It is about providing options. My job now is to help students know when it is appropriate to pick up their iPad or laptop because it supports their current need.

4 thoughts on “Am I Maximizing Device Use?

  1. Hi Andrew,

    You make some great points in this post!

    I was interested in what you said about the iPads at the Delhi school. A friend of mine just moved back to Riyadh from Jakarta, and she was surprised that they had to purchase iPads for their kids at AISR, since the Jakarta school had provided them for the students. I do think there are some benefits to the school owning and managing the devices they want students to use, though it would definitely have a huge initial cost.

    I especially agree with what you said about how technology can sometimes unleash amazing learning in one student while bogging down another. It’s a reminder that one size doesn’t fit all, even when we’re using tech. My son loves technology, but he has actually commented that he gets burned out on everything at school being tech-based. He feels like he’s on “tech-overload” sometimes, and he actually wishes for the old pencil and paper tasks now and then.

    I thought this article from Ed Tech Review brought up a great point about how to balance technology in the classroom. It emphasizes that how much technology to use has to be determined by the learning objectives, and that the tech should not dominate the core learning objectives: link to edtechreview.in

    The MS is lucky to have you and your tech knowledge! I am still benefitting from the great tips you shared with us in the ES last year. 🙂

  2. Hello Tech Coach…

    I like your realistic view that tech is a tool… sometimes needed, but sometimes not.

    I am an advocate of students bringing their own device (at the MS/HS level) as one of the biggest learning points with technology is understanding the wide variety of devices and platforms that are available. Being able to be technically literate across platforms and devices is a very valuable skill. I see no value in “forcing” students to buy an Apple product versus Android. Nor do I see value in not allowing students to choose a MacBook over an iPad. Let them figure out what works best for them… or what works best for the task they are trying to accomplish. If they discover that an iPad can’t embed video on their ePortfolio, but a Chromebook or MacBook can… this is a great tech-learning moment.

    I speak from experience as a long-time PC user. Confession… the first time I used an Apple product was 2013. It was a big switch, but I now feel much more tech savvy across the platforms… dare I say my MacBook has really grown on me.

    Thanks for an interesting read.
    -cp

    1. Craig,

      Thanks for reading and commenting on my post. I feel your pain with the transition from PC to Mac. You make a great point about not forcing a device on a student. It may make it easier from an institutional perspective but is not so great for our learners.

      Andrew

  3. Well stated, sir. There is a balance that must be met with regards to tech use, but for how much longer? No longer having a curriculum that requires traditional resources such as books, technology is becoming ever more necessary in most facets of classroom learning as well as the presentation of that learning. I agree that students need choice, but most of them choose the device. I definitely have students that are more comfortable with paper and pencil with regards to their learning, but I feel that it is a lack of knowledge of how to best use technology. This generation of students has grown up with devices in their hands, but most have never been taught how best to utilize technology in their educational growth and development. That mostly has to do with the fact that we as teachers are still learning this as well. I know, however, that you will be on the cutting edge in this area as you are…The Tech Cooaaaccchhhh! 🙂

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