Thursday, September 26, 2013

How much Technology is Too Much Technology?

Just about everyday, I hear from someone that there is too much technology and things change too quickly. They may have a point. After all, here are just a few changes that welcomed our teachers back to school this year:

  1. New computers with an updated operating system.
  2. Updated software for our student response devices.
  3. Student iPads and all the new apps that go with it.
  4. Updated software for our SmartBoards.
Add to that all the good old stuff that is still around, from MOODLE to Google and everything in between. It seems like each year, there is more to master. As the guy, or one of a small team of people, who are responsible for supporting teachers in their work to effectively use these tools in their classrooms, I sometimes feel like I need to apologize to them for all the opportunities that are out there. So is there such a thing as too much?

Perhaps the issue is not how much is out there, but how we perceive our role in using these things. We never complain that there are too many books to read or too many curriculum resources at our disposal. We never wish that we had fewer pencils, scissors, or crayons. I think this is because we don't set out to try to use ALL the pencils or ALL the books. We pick the ones that serve our purposes. I always carefully selected the books I wanted to read aloud in class or have students read during lit circles. I only ever used the resources that I needed. So it should be with technology.

We provide lots of options because teaching is about having the right tools at the right times. Sometimes, using Google Drive to work collaboratively or share a document is the perfect tool. Sometimes, using clickers to quickly assess where students are at makes formative assessment easier and better. We may not use them all, but as we add to our tool belt, we are better able to meet the needs of our students. 

So by starting with one or two tools and then adding new tools as we feel ready, we build the capacity to use technology effectively. It's not about what should you be doing? It's about where do you want to start? 

Sometimes we feel paralyzed because we worry about ALL the tools. Pick your first tool. Start. Learn. Take Risks. Fail. Grow. Have fun!!! The rest will come in time. 

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