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December 27, 2011

Donald Clark points out there has been more pedagogic change in 10 years than in the last 1000 years and makes a good argument for the power and accessibility of the new technologies. The use of technology provides some impressive tools for teachers. However, adapting new technology or applications requires serious adjustments and does not usually involve a one to one exchange from a non technology application to a technology application.

I follow several bloggers and tweeters who introduce new applications that they find online. I explore the ones that look useful; however, I end up using few of these applications in my classroom or teaching.

For one thing, adopting many of these technologies requires serious rethinking of what goes on in the classroom and in preparation. When I shifted to using PowerPoint from using overhead projector slides, I had to learn how to use the technology and how to teach with it. At first, I thought I merely had to copy the slides into PowerPoint. Then I thought I had to show off the many cool things PowerPoint could do to keep my students interested. It wasn’t until I really began reading and thinking about how to use PowerPoint not for presentation but for learning that I changed to a more pedagogical approach.

My learning process has followed similar paths for some of the other applications I use including using word processed papers and now Google Documents, and the many ways I use video in the classroom. The biggest struggle for me has been to figure out how to use new applications instructionally to benefit and enhance student learning.

I follow a pattern in adopting new applications.

First, I use the application with a simple activity or assignment finding out not only how students use it but what problems occur that I had not anticipated.

Second, I build an activity into a class that involves more student use of the application until I begin to get comfortable with it. By building in the application, I mean that I identify what the application can help my students learn.

Next, I find the limitations of the application by trying out a few other activities with it.

These are the steps I used in introducing and using and Quizlet in my classes.

With, I found it useful for students analyzing main ideas and supporting details in reading and in identifying organizational patterns. With Quizlet I use for students to learn vocabulary roots and some tone words. My hope is that the students will continue to use these applications for other needs that they have.

While I like using technology in my classes, I tend to approach new applications with caution. Each new technology will involve changes in approaching a topic or skill, will involve additional student learning, and needs to have a identifiable payoff in terms of learning so that students feel they learn something and find the application useful.

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