Technology is just like any other set of skills. It takes practice to become proficient, but once proficiency is achieved, efficiency follows. When efficiency is in effect, productivity increases. In using technology with students, they have to have opportunities to use technology to develop some proficient skills with it. Once they become proficient, they can then efficiently expedite the learning process. Now students can produce work that helps reflect their learning. I have a strong work ethic that became a mantra in my classroom with the phrase “Be productive.” Efficient productivity was and is always my goal, and that’s why I personally prefer using technology because I find it is more efficient in accomplishing what I need to get done.
Choosing your technology tools wisely will decrease the tendency for the technology to be distracting and increase efficiency in their work.The latest and greatest tech tool may not be instructionally sound if it becomes a distraction to the students. Initially an introduction to a new tool can be a distraction to students, so allow time for students to familiarize themselves to the tool. Then bring the focus back to the learning objective, much the same way you do when introducing new math manipulatives or science materials.
Sometimes the KISS principle still works when it comes to technology (Keep It Simple Silly). Technology is moving at the speed of light; it quickly becomes outdated as the latest and greatest is already being updated as soon as it hits the shelf. However, if you have something that works well, it’s okay to continue to use it. Some of my suggestions listed on this website are going to use tools you already have, but hopefully you can look at them with a fresh perspective and apply some innovation to the way you use them.
Also know yourself and know your students when choosing an instructional tech tool. Every classroom has a different structure that reflects the teacher’s personality. Choosing instructional tech tools is no different, although you may have to stretch yourself to incorporate technology in your teaching and students’ learning. Additionally, knowing your students will help you determine whether you want to attempt whole-group instruction or small-group instruction with the instructional tech tool.
Finally teach the objective of the lesson separately from teaching the tool. This has a two-fold purpose. First, you want students to meet the learning objective without distractions. Secondly, students will comprehend the task better when using the tool. Use a task analysis to break down how to teach students the steps in using the tool. This process will help instruction on the tool to be efficient and less confusing and also will help you determine which structure will be best suited for the tool, i.e. whole group versus small group.
I am a technology integration coach for a school district supporting one preschool, fifteen elementary schools, two middle schools, and three high schools. Check here for the latest updates on instructional technology.