Instructional Technology Done Right

Increasingly, I seem to run across articles whose message is “don’t use technology solely for the sake of using technology.” What I see less often are examples of what well executed technology integration actually looks like. Here’s one such example:

Let’s Peel Back the Layers First

When you hear folks talking about not using technology for technology’s sake, they’re generally referring to the type of teacher that uses their 1:1 iPad initiative to distribute and collect scanned copies of the same worksheets that they’ve been using since the Carter administration.

While there might be an argument to make (though I doubt it) that this practice saves time which allows for other, higher order thinking activities to take place, it would be near impossible to argue that this practice impacts student learning differently than when the PDFs were printed copies.

If the impact of the activity is no different than before, you’re using the technology incorrectly.

Most teachers understand that technology integration isn’t supposed to be a direct substitution for what they’ve always done, but many teachers still struggle to identify concrete examples of technology integration that meaningfully impacts student learning.

A Concrete Example

I could wax poetic for hours about how technology integration in the classroom is supposed to facilitate creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration (the 4 C’s), but I don’t think that would help us get any closer to understanding what sound technology integration looks like. Instead, I’d rather share a single, real-world example from a career exploration lesson as part of my Introduction to Business class.

Choose a family member, neighbor, or family friend that has a job that you consider interesting. You’re job is to create an audio recording interview of this person with your Chromebook using the application MicNote.

Your interview should include the following prompts and questions:

  • Introduce yourself and your interviewee to the listening audience
  • Ask what your interviewee does for a living?
  • Inquire as to how they ended up in this line of work (school, previous jobs, etc)?
  • Ask about how their career has evolved in ways that they didn’t expect it to?
  • Find out what the most challenging part of their job is?
  • Ask for a piece of advice that they would give to someone entering their field?
  • Ask at least one more question of your choosing.
  • Wrap up your interview

The Interview

The interview below was produced by a student in my class named Kevin. He used his Chromebook to make the recording

Breakdown

Here’s what I love about this project: Kevin went above and beyond the requirements by reaching outside of his personal network by connecting with and interviewing an E-Sports announcer/commentator that he truly admires. He understood the requirements of the assignment and creatively interpreted them to meet a synergistic goal of his own. His interview questions clearly demonstrate that he thought critically about this occupation, and the product of his efforts are a collaborative discussion that significantly impacted his learning.

To take things a step further with this project, once all students completed their interviews, I allotted time for my students to listen to and comment on their classmate’s interviews.

In short, this lesson addressed the 4C’s, but not solely for the sake of connecting, creating, critically thinking, and collaborating. The focus remained on career exploration, but by leveraging the 4C’s, the students engaged with the concepts of this lesson in a far more significant way.