Since FETC 2016 I have been continuing along my journey of understanding how to evaluate and integrate educational technology into the classroom. I recently come across a report from Alliance for Excellent Education (2014) on using technology to support at-risk students here to read the report). Through their research they came up with several aspects of using technology that make up the Digital Learning Ecosystem. Using this report, I have developed 4 questions educators should consider before using educational technology in their classroom.
- Is the digital tool going to work well with the technology available to you?
- Do you have the infrastructure to run the digital tool effectively (ex. Bandwidth, storage, etc)
- Do you have enough access to use the digital tool effectively (ex. does it need 1:1 devices)?
- Do you have technical support available to you or are you able to handle the installation and any glitches on your own?
- Will the digital tool fit into your learning community?
- Will it work well within your classroom and with your students?
- Will it fit well with your approach to learning and classroom management strategies?
- Will it require parental involvement or at home access?
- Will the digital tool help you and your students accomplish your learning goals?
- What types of skills will the digital tool help your students develop?
- What sort of content does the tool work well with (ex. math, science, cross-curricular)?
- What sort of learning activities does the tool work well with?
- Do they get to explore and create content through the digital tool?
- Is it interactive and/or adaptive?
In addition, before jumping on board with any type of educational technology consider these 5 implications for policy makes and educators discussed within the report.
- Educators should aim for 1:1 devices, especially in low-income areas where students may not have access to technology at home.
- Educators should consider the speed of their internet connections to prevent user issues
- Remember that at-risk students benefit the most from technology that is engaging and interactive.
- Students should be able to use the digital tool to create and explore content.
- Students benefit most from blended learning environments. The digital tool should not replace the in-person collaboration between teachers and students as well as student to student.
Darling-hammond, L., Zielezinski, M. B., & Goldman, S. (2014). Using technology to support at-risk students’ learning. Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. Retrieved from http://all4ed.org/reports-factsheets/UsingTechnology/