We see new educational technology resources all the time, whether they are websites, hardware, mobile devices or apps. Trying to decide which of these technology resources are best in your own courses can be a challenge. But how can one decide what technology to use? As an instructor, it is important to evaluate technology for educational purposes. Many school districts or universities have technology coordinators or instructional consulting offices with established criteria to identify resources and technologies for your classroom. Seeking the help of others is a great place to start, but here are some general tips for you to consider when selecting technology to be used in your own courses.
How does the technology support teaching and learning?
Think about how technology can be used for teaching and learning in your classroom. For instance, will technology support new ways of students’ learning? How will technology improve instruction? It is important to consider your instructional objectives and then to find technology that will help you achieve those goals. Technology does not automatically enhance teaching and learning, but when aligned with your overall instructional goals, it can be very beneficial.
What are others doing to meet the instructional goals?
One of the best ways to successfully integrate technology is to ask your peers and become part of a professional learning network. Social media networks, blogs, and other websites are great ways to learn about new tools and get first-hand accounts of what other teachers are using. Look around and encourage other teachers to share their own success stories and failures of what worked or didn’t work. Ask your colleagues what technology tools they have tried in their courses. Sometimes you need to try a couple of different ways to use a technology before you find a good way to use it.
How does the technology enhance interactivity?
Many technologies enhance interactivity between an instructor and students. They, for instance, may offer the ability for feedback reporting and tracking that can be very helpful to an instructor. Other benefits of interactivity include use in group work and across subject areas.
How easy is it for you and your students to use technology?
Think about user-friendliness, speed, user interface, and training and support. Technology tools and software may not always need to be simple, but consider the amount of support that may be available to you and your students if you get stuck.
How accessible is the technology to you and your students?
Consider whether this technology is accessible for all the students in a classroom. For example, if you would like to use apps for handheld devices in a class, then those devices should be accessible for all the students.
Is the technology cost-effective?
While there are many free resources available, it is always important to consider the monetary costs, the time to learn and use, and any support that may be involved. Although there are many excellent, free resources available, they might offer limited access, or have intrusive advertising that may not be appropriate for your classroom. Sometimes getting a paid version offers more stability and support than a free version.
Does the technology protect the privacy and security of you and your students?
The issues of privacy and security should be considered in using technology in a classroom. Using technology should not violate students’ privacy and security. For instance, does this tool gather students’ personal data? Does it expose students to people outside of the class? Make sure to check your school’s policy before implementing new technologies.
Is the technology compatible with existing tools?
Think about whether the new technology is compatible with existing technology. You may need to update the technology with the latest version or purchase extra equipment in order to use the technology.
Overall there are many ways that technology can be used in education. Picking the right technology can be a challenge, but there are many resources available to help out. Look around, think critically about the technology, and look for options that will best suit you and your classroom.
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