I’m Easy and Cool!

Ok finally post number one from #ISTE11. This year I went through the exhibition hall, for more than the 5 minutes I was in there last year. Only really went to see my friends who are venders. I tried to make it through this planned path from each place then out. I TRIED. I had Bob Dillon (@ideaguy42) in tow who just received a huge tech grant so the Doc wanted shop. So as we walked I felt molested (can I say that in an edublog? May get weird searches on analytics now lol). It was so uncomfortable, ladies in French maid costumes or the ones who had this need to touch me or my name tag, but I realized a common theme. The more pushy the sales person the more they would say there product made teaching “easier” or their product was “cool.” Ok, annnnnd?

Is this our goal for technology “easier” or “cool?” Boooooo! Yeah I’m a short cut taker. When you have ADHD tedious things take longer so you have to adapt, but I’m not so sure we are on the right track here. When looking at new technologies, whether something we are buying or that new Web 2.0 tool from a session, we need to ask a few questions:

1. Does it fit into framework of good pedagogy? Think about it, 3D projector “ohhh ahhhh” fancy. Get to wear awesome glasses. But a 3D projector? For?? Football? Oh yeah this is for classroom. If you have one need for this pplllllease tell me. Sometimes the coolest tech is pointless. Waste of money. I don’t know about you, but my district or classroom account doesn’t look like Scrooge McDuck’s vault, diving into gold coins.

2. Does the technology take away real life experiences or add to it? Let’s go back to the 3D projector. Saw an example of a frog that could be dissected. I know so kids opt out of cutting animals, but most don’t. Yeah a class set of frogs is a little expensive but so is he projector. Are kids going to learn more from touching a real heart (or getting that gross pregnant frog with the millions of eggs inside- every class gets one) or from a teacher standing in front of the room showing it on screen?

3. Are the students using the technology or are the teachers? Yeah I know, we want the short cut, but if I was a buyer of technology in a school I would have a hard time saying ok to the purchase of something that never touches the students hands. My mom says a lot “it’s not about you,” I think we need to remember TEACHING IS NOT ABOUT YOU!!!! Its about the kids you see every day. Get over it.

4. Does enhance learning that is already happening? Perfect example of this is “Letters Alive” that I have had on my mind past few weeks (I’ll link it as soon as I get to a computer, blogging mobile here). So you put these flashcards of basic sight words under a document camera and the program not only reads it, the pictures on cards (in 3D, see not all 3D is bad) act out the sentence. At first I thought “cool” then I keep thinking of how this will really help those early learners. When I taught 1st grade there were kids I literally had to act out words for them to understand. Now, they can with out me.

5. Lastly, is it taking something already BAD and making it digital? I see this a lot. It is usually hidden under words like “21st century” or “preparing for future.” Think digital text books. You know the PDF pages that are not open source or used for anything else but book on computer. Waste of money. Or even better, multiple choice test, but done through a computer. (I have to give MC test, but I still not a fan). Let’s not take something that already doesn’t work & put stilettos on it.

Please know there are some great resources out there, I’m sure those who were at #iste11 or followed the tweets have a new amazing list, but don’t be fooled. We need to really think about our students & their learning before adopting what is “easy” and “cool.”

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Christine R. says:

    I think even if our school district had a vault like Scrooge McDuck, I still wouldn’t be able to think of a use for a 3D projector. Unfortunately, there will be districts that buy tech just because it is “cool” with no real forethought as to it’s usefulness in a classroom. Sometimes low-tech is the better way to go. Save the money for technology that can have real impact on our students.

    I also think that you are right on the money…the technology is better used in our students’ hands, and not our hands. I try to live that every day in my classroom and am constantly amazed at what they can do!

  2. Completely! #5 is the worst. Bummed I didn’t get a chance to meet you at ISTE!

  3. dunsiger says:

    As always Amanda, I love your posts, and I completely agree. I bought in right away with your number 1 and number 3 point. I was actually just talking to my previous principal (now retired) about these points before we left for the year. I think that I’ll be sharing your post with her too. Even though she’s retired now, I know that she still has a big interest in this, and I think that she’ll enjoy your post as much as I did!


  4. JoAnnJ68 says:

    I totally agree on all points and I am also bothered by all of the junk mail that arrives prior to the conference. At times it makes me feel that I can be bought with a pen, pencil, or shirt because I don’t know any better. It’s all about the kids and as adults we need to let them create it.
    Thanks for a great post.

  5. Josh says:

    With as fast as technology comes now, and how even faster money is leaving schools, I think it’s even MORE important to follow the guidelines you have here. One other thing is, how much PD can/will you put into this new tool. When you talked about the kids getting their hands on it, I immediately thought of IWB, something that we got to chat a bit about this week. If you don’t commit proper PD to it, it won’t get into the kids’ hands. But good PD will get the kids up there.
    Great post as always. So glad I got to spend some time with you this week.

  6. Great post! I totally agree that it’s not about the technology, but how technology is used to improve engagement, learning, preparation, etc. I discussed this more in my blog post here: http://blog.lightspeedsystems.com/joel/2011/07/13/reflections-on-iste-2011-part-3-its-not-about-the-technology/
    Thanks for sharing your points!

    1. amandacdykes says:

      @Joel thank you for the mention! I read the blog post last week and even tweeted it out. I think you are correct and it is great to see companies understand this, which is rare! Thank you for going against the norm!

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