What Does Technology Mean to You?

I’ve been attending the NSTA conference in Birmingham, Alabama, the last couple of days and I’ve been pondering something that has occurred to me at other, similar events. Just what does technology mean to educators?

I work in somewhat of a technology “bubble”. My school district is has a one-to-one program in its high school and spends a good deal of money on various programs and subscriptions to empower teachers to actively use technology on a daily basis in our classrooms. The school I work for is exceptionally technology rich. Any staff development that I attend for my school or for my district has an implied “bring your laptop” policy, and everyone just knows that they need to show up charged and ready to go.

Whenever I venture out of my bubble and attend events outside of my district, I am amazed at what a difference the support from my district makes. I’ve been to technology conferences where not only does nobody attending have a laptop, the facilities that are provided for presenters are about 5-10 years behind the times. The NSTA conference is no different – the first session I walked into had an old-fashioned overhead projector sitting up front with an apologetic presenter explaining that it was the best she could find and that she’d had to revise her whole presentation to accomodate the outdated technology. I recently presented at a regional TCEA conference and found myself having to think on my feet to adapt my presentation to accomodate older desktop computers and a class full of educators who needed a much more basic workshop than what I had prepared. I try to remind myself that outside of my bubble, resources I see as being simple and basic can be ooos and ahhhs for someone else.

So my question to you is: what does technology mean in your classroom? In my classroom, technology means utilizing web 2.0 resources like Animoto and VoiceThread, using online interactive lab simulations, digital storytelling projects, and using email to communicate with parents and students. Professionally, technology also includes wikis, Twitter, Second Life and other means to collaborate and share with educators from all over the world.

Comment and share – What is technology for you? What things hinder you in your district? In a perfect world, what technology would you use in your classroom? Do you think there can be too much technology in a classroom? Let’s get this discussion started!

Comments

  1. Charlene

    I am a strong believer in the power of technology for leveling the learning for all. Can there be too much technology? If the technology is appropriate, I don’t believe so. Yet, it is often viewed as an “add on.” Such as this comment recently heard from a science teacher at a meeting discussing 21st century skills. “What do I take out of my bucket? My bucket is filled to the brim — I cannot add one more thing to my teaching.”

    How do you find/make time to include these tools in your classroom? What came out of your bucket in order for you to be able to incorporate these tools in your teaching? Our district is like yours, very technology rich (a variety of programs and subscriptions, just-in-time support and up-to-date hardware/software). Our teachers have access, support and encouragement — yet some still see their bucket too full to “add one more thing” — and when their students are high performing, and demonstrate mastery of the subject with “things as they are” — is it really necessary to “add” more technology??

  2. Elaine Plybon

    I’ve had this discussion with co-workers – we sometimes have too many choices, which makes some educators decide to not add anything to their curriculum. I think the district would do better to narrow down the options they provide. For me, I incorporate the technology easily because I never teach the same thing from one year to the next, so my curriculum is constantly being written from scratch, basically. This makes it easy to replace this worksheet with that online activity, or this research paper with that digital media assignment. I do understand the frustration from teachers, though, when they are introduced with some new technology and they all say “hey, that’s great, but I don’t have any idea when I’ll have the time to explore it”.

  3. Lea Anne

    I agree 100% with your confusion on technology in schools. With kids being so tech savvy these days, it is vital we meet them on their own level. If we can’t make it relevant, our efforts will be lost.

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