When it comes to #edtech, are we trying too hard? This is a question that has been weighing heavily on my mind lately.
A few weeks ago, my good friend Robin and I co-wrote a post on the pedagogical value of Snapchat — one of the most popular social media apps used by youth today. Snapchat can be used to live broadcast school events, to communicate with parents and/or students, to showcase student learning, and much more. However, just because Snapchat has potential educational value doesn’t mean that it is the best learning tool for my students.
We seem to do this a lot; we feel pressure to stay up-to-date on the newest, hottest tech tools, so every time a new website, app, or social media platform come out, we feel the need to “edufy” it to make it usable in the classroom. This brings me back to my original question: Are we trying too hard? Do all these new technologies really have a place in the classroom when there are a million and one technologies already out there? Are we, in some way, just trying to “have an in” with our students?
Before I go any further, I’d like to clarify something: I am not arguing against the use of Snapchat (or any other new tech tool for that matter) in the classroom. As I mentioned before, Snapchat does have educational value. What I am arguing, however, is that we as teachers be more critical of the technologies that we implement into our classrooms and the ways in which we implement them. I strongly believe that technology integration needs to be planned and purposeful; there needs to be a reason for doing it — it should not be random. This TED-Ed article outlines three questions that teachers should ask themselves before using technology in the classroom:
- What is the primary goal, and how will this technology support it?
- How will this technology choice broaden students’ perspectives?
- How is this technology choice going to help my students learn?
Teachers can (and should) use these three questions to evaluate a new tech tool before integrating it into the classroom. Teachers should also use these questions to evaluate the tools they already use to determine if they are still effective. Amie Reid, a fellow ECMP 355 classmate and someone who is pro-technology, recently wrote a blog post in which she argued against using Twitter in the classroom. Amie made some excellent points (in a very creative fashion, might I add), but one in particular struck me:
“My 14 yo says Twitter (like Facebook) is old news. She doesn’t tweet. She uses Instagram, Snapchat, etc. So why force this tech on Ss?”
I think Amie’s point nicely addresses why we need to be critical of the technology that we use in the classroom — both old and new. Twitter and Facebook may be tried-and-true edtech tools, but these technologies are becoming obsolete to youth. So, as Amie asserts, why force do we still these tools on our students? Surely there are more engaging apps that we can use to meet students’ learning needs other than Twitter and Facebook.
I guess my point is this: Instead of “edufying” every new technology that comes our way, maybe we should spend our time and efforts making good use of a few technologies that we know are engaging and effective learning tools for our students. This is not to say that we should never try out new technologies, of course we should, but not everything has to be turned into an edtech tool. In my opinion, the whole point of edtech is to support and enhance student learning — it should not be used just for the sake of it.