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Consider the Learning

March 11, 2015

One aspect of my current role is to work with teachers to integrate technology into their classrooms. I receive many requests to help teachers use iPads or Chromebooks or a wide variety of other tools in their lessons. But, whenever I receive a request I ask the teacher to put the technology tool aside for a moment and focus on the learning first.

Why the Learning?

Focusing on learning before integrating technology is not an original idea. Many individuals like George Couros advocate for teachers to focus on rich learning opportunities before integrating any kind of technology. I tend to agree. I often say to teachers that technology will not make a bad lesson better and in most cases will actually make it worse. Therefore, it makes good pedagogical sense to focus on the learning outcomes first. We need to know where we are going before we map out how we will get there. However, there is an argument floating around against this orientation.

It’s Everywhere!

I was involved in a discussion on Twitter recently where an opposing view was presented – while it is important to focus on the learning before technology, sometimes the learning objective cannot be achieved without the use of technology. That statement left me thinking if there really are learning outcomes which cannot be achieved through integration of technology. At this point, I’m going to reserve my judgement and thoughts on that as I’m still wading through it. But, it definitely is worth considering. Has teaching and learning entered into a space where learning outcomes must include technology? When I look at the argument in that way I would argue no, it has not. Technology is everywhere and its use among our students is ubiquitous. But, that does not mean we cannot teach without it. We can’t teach in the same way but that doesn’t stop the learning process.

We’re Rich!

While I believe teaching and learning can progress without technology in the classroom, I will suggest we do a disservice to our students when we do not integrate the tools into our lessons. Tech tools have the potential to provide rich learning experiences and connect learners and teachers in ways which were never possible prior to their inclusion in the classroom. But, in order to do so, teachers need to be judicious in their use and ensure the tools are included to promote learning outcomes. As George Couros says (and I’m paraphrasing): are you using the technology to redefine what you are doing or are you using an $800 pencil?

As always, I appreciate feedback.

Have a great day,

Sean

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