What question(s) do you ask yourself before integrating technology into instruction?

I asked this question in a Google+ Community I created for my book last year.

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Here are some of the responses from members of this community.

The question is whether the goal + technology (strategy + technology, experience + technology, assessment + technology) is better than any of those things without the technology. Perhaps the question is… What does this strategy + technology add to the learning situation that a strategy without technology doesn’t add?

– M Millen

I appreciated this response. There is a contrast created between having the technology and not having the technology, and what the difference might be.

I think one of the most important first questions is: “How does this change or enhance the learning experience for the child?”

– T Maki

Great point, that takes the first comment listed here and centers instruction back to the students in the classroom.

I think there are several steps involved…number one is, what systems are in place that support my teaching and student learning? Also, how can I leverage what we have to enhance my teaching and engage students? Sometimes we have things right in front of us and don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

– E McCarthy

Also a great point, because I think we tend to assume that we need more things – devices, dollars, time – when support for a teacher can be a simple as an extra person in the room to help facilitate a new project that involves digital tools.

I wonder if the technology will help the students feel connected and thus inspired to learn from one another. I also hope the new technology will help students feel valued by others and in return they will gain new perspectives and other creative ways to solve a problem.

– D Hunt

This is where I also see the biggest benefits of enhancing instruction with technology. The idea that you can bring in a broader audience with instruction is incredible. These “new perspectives” that can be gained by Skyping or blogging with another classroom is unparalleled in its authenticity and immediacy. So powerful.

The “PC” answer would be I don’t separate the two. When planning instruction I reflect on the goal, tools, resources and strategies need to reach students. Sometimes I have technology because it is what is needed to move the lesson forward, other times technology doesn’t. I work on broadening my pool of technology resources. I want to make sure what I am using is the best fit. There are so many choices. So the struggle is to make sure the resource changes the lesson, that w/o it my goal of the lesson would change or not be met.

– Z Brown

Being discriminating about technology is essential in today’s connected world. We can get bogged down in always thinking every lesson needs to be “digitized”. Focusing on how “the resource changes the lesson” is a struggle that I imagine many teachers deal with regularly.

What can I do to get students to be more active in their learning? What can I do to make this lesson more fun? What can I do to make student learning more visible?

– J Gauthier

I often forget about this aspect about technology, especially as it has become almost ubiquitous – it’s fun! Making students’ learning visible is also something very possible in today’s highly connected age.

What do you ask yourself before integrating technology into instruction? Please share in the comments.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is a 17-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th grade teacher. After seven years of teaching, he served as a dean of students, assistant principal and athletic director before becoming an elementary principal in Wisconsin Rapids. Matt is now an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District (http://mineralpointschools.org/). Matt tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

2 thoughts on “What question(s) do you ask yourself before integrating technology into instruction?”

  1. An important question to ask is, “how can technology meet the specific needs of my students?” At Books That Grow our app offers a library of reading materials, all of which can be read across multiple reading levels to ensure all students simultaneously are having their needs meet. See more at http://www.booksthatgrow.com/

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