Andrew Shauver, an instructional technologist here in Michigan like myself, recently published a blogpost entitled 'The Truth About Instructional Tech.' It was timed perfectly for my own learning. The gist of the post is that we must acknowledge that technology tools alone do not solve many classroom issues. They are not a magic bullet.
I'm not looking to diminish the role of an instructional technology coach like myself, or the tools we help others use - I've got four kids, I need the job. What I am trying to say, and I believe I'm echoing Andrew's thoughts, is that we must have a solid understanding of what we want the technology to do, and understanding the learning goal we expect it to satisfy, before we implement. Or better yet, before purchase.
I agree with him when he writes "The poor classroom manager isn't going to become a better classroom manager simply because they use Class Dojo." I believe that most technology tools are able to amplify, more than they transform. Class Dojo can both expose the weaknesses of a classroom teachers management issues, as well as increase the reach of a strong classroom manager. I don't think it transformed either classroom.
Recently, in the 21 Things session I am co-teaching, we discussed emerging technologies. I stressed to the class to rely on a framework such as SAMR when evaluating the use of technology in their room. No time is that more important than with new technology. The size, shape, cost and promise of the technology can be alluring, but as educators we must keep the learning first.
You might think, with the role that I am in, that I'd be the first to embrace a new technology. I admit that I have found myself under the 'tech spell.' But I'm proud to say I have developed a healthy skepticism with technology. This skepticism has kept me from the bleeding edge of a learning curve more often than not. As emerging technology matures, like 3D printing, it's now on us to find, develop, and curate the curricular connections.
In short, thinking about the teaching, before the technology, is how I strive to do my job. It is the most meaningful for the students, and it also honors the skills a teacher brings to the classroom. Thanks for the reminder Andrew, and for making me think on a Friday!