I have finally decompressed from my trip to San Antonio for ISTE. It was really productive as I learned from others, made connections, and yes….spoke with vendors. While most of the vendor floor is what I like to call “Solutions to problems that don’t exist,” there are lots of companies doing great things for students and teachers. They are making real tools that can transform classrooms. All of that to say, I’ve been thinking about these tools and when they are used, is it really technology integration?
Integration or Substitution
It all comes down to whether the technology being used is simply hitting the ‘S’ on the SAMR model or if it is truly enhancing student learning. The following is not a knock on the services I mention; in fact, I love some of these services. It is a critique of how these services are being used by teachers. A perfect example is Moby Max. I think Moby Max is great. Students can use it for enrichment in several subjects. Teachers can enhance their curriculum and teaching by guiding students to certain lessons. The problem is that I see teachers assign it without intention. It is used as a way to fill time for students who are done with their assigned work or as a station. Moby Max does a pretty good job of leveling to students abilities, but how useful is that lesson on fractions when the rest of the class is talking perimeter?
I am intrigued by some of the companies that are “gamifying” learning. Prodigy Game is a curriculum-aligned math game. I can say that my soon to be 3rd grade daughter LOVES it. Again, it is important how teachers are using it. Unfortunately, her school doesn’t have classroom devices, so they go to the computer lab once a week. This was one of the activities that they did in the lab. When the best and easiest chance at technology integration is wasted on a game, it is disappointing. That is not to say that Prodigy Game is not worthwhile! It can be a great learning tool and motivator for students. What I am saying is simply: putting a student in front of a screen is not necessarily technology integration. In this case it is not at all.
If you are reading this post and doing these things, please rethink how you use these tools. Make learning worthwhile and your teaching and technology use intentional.