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.