Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mixed Bag of Technology

At a recent pro-d day workshop on the iPad, during the question and answer session I was asked twice by different administrators, "which technology should I buy for a class set?"  I could only ask a question in response to their question - "What do you want to do with this technology?"

I explained that perhaps what people need is not just one class set of the same technology, but different technologies.  What if there was a projector in every classroom (very important in my opinion), and then the teacher had a document camera, a couple iPod touches, 5 tablets, a teacher laptop, 5 desktop stations in the room, and a teacher website with online folders for both staff and students.  This might offer more capability than just one kind of technology, but it would mean putting some things in place before hand:

1.) A Pro-D plan.  No hardware or software without a plan to ensure teachers can learn about the tool in a supportive environment.  Whether it is through screecasts, workshops, or some form of coaching, having a pro-d plan means the money you invest in a tool does not go underutilized.

2.) A shift in thinking that all students have to do assignments the same way, or even at the same time. 

One of the teachers I hope to work with has a mixed bag of technologies in his room.  He is in a middle school class, with a portable SMART board, projector, a laptop, and 2 desktop computer stations for kids.  The students bring laptops, tablets, and iPod touches to school; Whatever they have, they bring. 

My goal is to get together with him, and find where the different technologies intersect.  Perhaps he could be screencasting math lessons on the SMART board, and posting it to his website.  Perhaps his students could be using their iPads to project their work, and lead a discussion in class.  I am sure he is doing some of these things, as he is a masterful teacher.  At the very least I will come away with great ideas one how a mixed bag of technologies can come together to create something greater than the sum of their parts.