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« The year-round school | Main | Learning adult skills »
Sunday
May202018

BFTP: Connecting problems and technology

"Given this year's learning in the areas of technology integration, what might be one or two concrete goals that you will set for yourself heading into next year?" - end of year assignment for an administrative technology leadership class

As assignments go, the one above isn't too bad. But (doing some Monday morning quarterbacking) could it be improved? What if read:

Select one or two major problems or challenges you expect to face next year and apply technology uses to help solve or meet them.

I know, I know, for many solving a problem or meeting an educational need with technology is implied in the first assignment. But for too many educators, technology application is still about starting with a new and sexy solution and then running about looking for a problem to solve. 

In rather vague ways, when most educators think about the why's of integrating technology into education they consider motivation, engagement, technology skill practice, reading and math remediation, higher-level thinking, improved communication, collaborative learning global citizenship, problem-solving, yada, yada, yada. All lovely and important aspirations for the productive use of these fun devices, large and small, that beep, buzz and take batteries.

But we have to do a better job of getting down in the weeds, tackling real and specific problems with technology that are rooted in the day-to-day educational problems that can't very well be solved by traditional practices...

  • How do I help students build the level of concern for the quality of their writing? 
  • How can I help my current ESL students master double-digit multiplication?
  • What might make my unit on the Civil War/the water cycle/nutrition more meaningful?
  • How can I better connect with my students' parents?
  • How do I make my staff meetings more productive?
  • How do I provide non-fiction, high-interest reading materials for elementary students helping them meet the new language arts standards?

My long standing advice to teachers has always been to begin integrating technology into one's worst units -  the ones neither you nor your students much like. I would extend this to all educators and suggest we all start looking for technology solutions to our most difficult problems - those which seem intractable.

Most educators need exposure to the basic functionality and possibilities of new technologies. But once exposed, the direction should be toward problems, not generic or idealistic technology use. 

Graphic source

Original post May 5, 2013

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Reader Comments (3)

This article is so good I actually made a paper copy of it! I have been looking for a "something new" to work on this summer, and it looks like I just found it.
It will be interesting to see what happens in my class with this since everything I do involves technology (as the only computer science / robotics teacher in the school).
Hope you end the school year on an outstanding note and have a long and restful summer!

May 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

Hi Kenn,

Well, the school year never really ends for me, but summer is different and I am taking some time off to spend with family, especially grandsons!

Have a great summer yourself,

Doug

May 21, 2018 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi Kenn,

Well, the school year never really ends for me, but summer is different and I am taking some time off to spend with family, especially grandsons!

Have a great summer yourself,

Doug

May 21, 2018 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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