“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.“ - John Dewey
Important Technology Purchase Reminder...
I have been working with technology in education for nearly thirty years now. I've seen a lot of things come and go. I know this really dates me, but I remember when we saved our programs on punch cards. As I've
worked closely with technology, I've learned a few important lessons.
Technology is only a tool - one tool of the many that are used in the art of teaching. I think that sometimes we let the tool get in the way of educational success - like trying to use a hammer to do a screwdriver’s job. Use the right tool for the job. Sometimes a pencil is a good technology, too.
Technology is a funding black hole: Equipment ages quickly. In my labs I replace all the equipment every three to four years. Most software you purchase will have a yearly cost to upgrade and maintain. You need to
carefully evaluate, “Is this tool really worth the funding it will take to implement and maintain it?” If you’re writing a grant to get equipment, the grant will probably not replace or maintain that equipment. That either
makes obtaining it a one-time-shot - a window of time that you can use it, or you must make arrangements for ongoing training, maintenance, and replacement costs. You purchase technology because the tool will enable you to do something easier, better, more efficiently, obtain better results, etc. You don’t want to start off with a bang, and then go stagnant because of lack of continued funding.
People value personal interactions. How many times have you cursed a phone answering system that began, “Please listen carefully to the following options...?” When we call, we usually want a human interaction,
not a technology one. It’s important to remember this in the art of educating. How will a technology assist you to have more relevant, meaningful interactions with your students? Can a technology take over some of the more mundane educational tasks, so that it frees time to personally interact with your students?
Don’t just hop on the technology bandwagon just because everyone else is doing it. You need to be able to truly justify why you should include any technology into your education plans. Some questions to ask:
1) Exactly how will this technology help me do my job better? ...help students do their job better?
2) What benefits will come from investing in this technology? What are the drawbacks or disadvantages? How will this purchase free you or enslave you? How will it empower or debilitate you?
3) What kind of support will be in place when something goes wrong? How will people be trained for using this new technology? How will this be maintained (or replaced when it becomes outdated)?
4) What are the hidden costs? Will there be new furniture required? Do you have sufficient electrical capacity (security, internet access, space, peripherals, etc.)? You need to carefully evaluate every aspect of the
purchase, such as warranty, manufacturer reliability, performance record, etc. What is the total cost of ownership really going to be?
5) Is everyone that will be using this new purchase willing to personally buy in to it? By this I mean, willing to invest the time necessary to learn it, use it, and come at it with an open mind. Many technology purchases fail because the users couldn't come to grips with using it - wouldn't keep an open mind about it - weren't willing to give it a chance to work. Essentially, it was doomed before it even started. Often, decisions made at an administrative level without buy-in on all levels are perceived as added burdens rather than beneficial gifts.
It is important for us, as educators, to personally
become familiar with current technology. We
need to obtain it - use it - and model its acceptable
use to our children. These are the tools they
will be using in the workforce when they graduate.
In truth, they are using them right now - tools that
currently most schools do not allow - such as cell
phones, portable devices such as iPod Touch, GPS
units, and so on. They need to become comfortable
tools for us. As with all our other “tools of the
trade,” we need to incorporate these into our daily
practice, which may mean changing our policies.
So, how does one get these technologies into the
classroom - especially since funding is tight and
the economy depressed? There are many grants
and opportunities for those willing to seek after
them. A few are listed in this section.
Nathan Smith, Director of Technology
College of Education & Human Services
Utah State University
Effective technology integration is achieved when its use supports curricular goals. It must support four key components of learning:
George Lucas Educational Foundation
This page last updated May 20, 2016