Teachers don't have to spend more money on expensive tech tools… maximize the classroom technology already in place!
Equitable access is likely the most important goal and yet the toughest to achieve. Education in America has always been a case of “the haves” and “the have-nots.” Every family, home, classroom, school, or district's technology access is different and dependent upon funding. Schools either have classroom technology or they don't. So how do we ensure that lack of access to technology does not limit student opportunities for communicating, collaborating, and creating?
The easy answer is to get more money. However, that's easier said than done. We must be willing to increase our own technology proficiency so that we can learn how to use what we have to provide better learning opportunities for our students. This does not mean purchasing a pricey subscription to a tech tool. It means maximizing the tools already in place.
Let's think about classroom technology as a health scenario.
While I can't change your previous or even current experience with classroom technology, I can help you get a good dose of “vitamins.”
Prescription 1: Office 365. While there are many great tools to support learning, Office 365 is my favorite. And not least of all, O365 for education is FREE! It can be used on any device; and with web apps and offline use, students can use Office apps on a slow, spotty network. In addition, the learning curve is minimal and Microsoft provides many free tutorials.
Prescription 2: Join the Microsoft Educator Community where you can get trained, collaborate, connect and communicate with other educators who are also building proficiency.
– College/University pre-service programs are like childhood eating habits. Good nutrition or learning how to eat right early on keeps us healthy and helps our immunity. Learning how to use technology prior to entering the classroom helps us maintain focus, increases student motivation, and helps us become immune to fear, frustration, and helplessness.
– OIT PD is like a yearly physical. It can keep you up-to-date with new and important information for staying “professionally” healthy; and it can also help you determine the correct diagnosis (technology) and devise treatment (a solution) to help you meet your students' needs.
– Individual PD/lifelong learning is like taking a daily multivitamin. It is like an insurance policy for the poor eating habits (non-existent tech education training in undergrad) or supplement for skipping your veggies (school PD). Though it's not required, it will help you perform your best.
So, get tech healthy today!
Tiffany Thompson has over 15 years in the education field, including experience as a classroom teacher, technology coordinator, instructional technologist, trainer, and adjunct instructor. She currently consults and trains on classroom technology, instructional technology, facilitates online workshops for Maryland State Department of Education and The Online Learning Consortium, and teaches a graduate-level course in McDaniel College's Curriculum & Instruction Department. She is also a Microsoft Innovative Educator, Microsoft Innovative Expert, Microsoft Office Specialist, and Microsoft Surface Expert.