The digital natives filling our classrooms are not as native as some think and teachers need to remember this when introducing new technology tools.
Students born during or after the digital age are considered a "Digital Native". This title seems to carry certain assumptions:
Rather than being simply a new generation of learners, we consider them a whole new species.
The frustration arrives in the classroom when the teacher decides to integrate a new technology tool and simply throws it at the children. It is a disastrous failure. The objective of the lesson is not achieved and the teacher is completely stressed out by the end of the lesson. Even a substitutional use of technology requires a little more preparation than some teachers think it does.
In a recent article on EdSurge, students pushed back on some of the assumptions about digital natives, stating that they are not as tech savvy as educators assume. In my experience, I would completely agree. Children do not just pick up a device or open a piece of software and just know how to use it. Children are more fearless in their exploration and willingness to try new things in general, but this doesn't mean they are savvy by default. I would argue that using technology, like a great many other things in life, doesn't come naturally to anyone. We all have to learn how to use it...and as technology evolves, continue to work at it!
It takes time to save time
The old saying goes "you have to spend money to make money". A similar principle applies with the use of technology. You need to spend some time educating the children to use it before you can reap the benefits of its application in the classroom. Technology is a tool and like any tool, a little "how to" can go a long way.
An example might be as simple as a teacher wanting to get students to word process a narrative they have written. You could consider:
One of the common arguments I hear, is that there simply isn't time to teach all that to students while trying to also cover an increasingly demanding curriculum. I find that easy to understand, but will argue that an investment in these few lessons can continue to pay off for the remainder of the school year. Consider also the options of modelling during teaching, setting up older buddies or teaching a couple of student champions, who can the tutor their peers.
Another argument is that there is no point teaching devices and software that will be obsolete in a few years time. While technology is evolving rapidly, learning the ropes within a certain interface or on a certain device is not a waste of time. Many concepts are transferrable between interfaces. Icons and symbols, even simple processes remain consistent - even in augmented reality platforms! These experiences gradually build digital literacy, understanding about computational processes and develop knowledge of digital symbolism.
It's always pedagodgy first, technology second
Integrating technology into learning is something I encourage all teachers to be doing, but I must stress that teachers need to be mindful of how it is being implemented and if they are setting students up to succeed. Technology can bring the "wow" factor into lessons and can be the key to engaging our 21st Century learners. It can also be incredibly time consuming and cause a lot of teacher distress.
Keep the following questions in mind when thinking about introducing a new technology tool in the classroom:
To avoid some of the most common pitfalls when using new technology tools:
Technology is not always easy to implement in the classroom, but it is worth the effort. Things don’t always go to plan and that's okay. Reflect, adjust and persist. It's part of the journey and it's an exciting one to be on.
Read all about my thoughts on teaching in the 21st Century, my experiences with technology in the classroom, running a Maker Space, launching STEAM and Design Thinking with students, coding, robotics and much more!
Click the button below: