Whether I knew it then or not, getting hired by a school district that invested in a district-wide 1:1 Chromebook program was the best thing that ever happened to me as an educator. In an instant, I upgraded from aging overhead projectors and pieced-together computer labs to a classroom equipped with a cart full of 25 shiny, new Chromebooks…oh, the possibilities. But, with great technological power like that, comes great responsibility; I felt the immediate pull to move away from the traditional teaching methods I experienced and emulated for years, towards the potential of the newfangled devices set before me.
Transforming my teaching practice wasn’t going to happen overnight, and it didn’t. The change was slow and gradual. I didn’t want to relinquish hard-copy worksheets, Microsoft Office, or my trusty flash drive, so there were definite growing pains. Eventually, I ditched the old and opted for all the new my district provided: Chromebooks, Google Apps for Education, Naviance, Mastery Connect, iPads, and the like. There wasn’t an easy button. There wasn’t a universal conversion program. I felt like I had to recreate the wheel several times, and I felt like all this new technology added more work to my plate instead of making my life easier.
Although getting Chromebooks prompted my personal technological transformation, I struggled to commit to educational technology 100%. I had new ideas, but no idea how to make them work. I wanted to implement many blended learning tools, but they were either too expensive or blocked in the domain. Plus, I had standards to cover. I had traditional lessons already planned. I had students with no online access at home. I had colleagues that resisted change. And change never stopped.
Maybe you have similar thoughts. Maybe you have access to wonderful educational technologies in your classroom. Maybe you struggle to maximize their potential. We all have our reasons. But, change isn’t easy…it’s necessary. In my case, once I fully integrated the technology provided to me, it was career-changing. After reflecting on my personal experience, I wanted to share four reasons why embracing educational technology is totally worth it:
1. Your job will get easier
Contrary to popular opinion, once you start using technology effectively, your workload will decrease. After you feel the satisfaction of Flubaroo auto-grading 120 vocabulary quizzes in a matter of seconds, you’ll understand what I mean. More importantly, students will be more engaged, your lessons will be more dynamic, and you’ll learn right alongside your students.
2. You can make every second of class time count
Lectures, notes, powerpoint presentations. Rinse, repeat. If many of your experiences in high school and college mirrored that instructional setup, you’re not alone. But, disseminating information like that isn’t always the best use of valuable class time, right? Now, technology can spread the content knowledge so you can focus on facilitating an authentic learning environment. Embed video tutorials, post links to websites, share multi-media texts, and let students learn together. Then, you (the teacher) can actually teach! Be a guide for students. Help them overcome obstacles. Offer effective feedback. Create rich, engaging experiences. Champion collaboration. Challenge them to discover new learning on their own, and have fun! Make every second of your class an opportunity to actively learn and grow instead of a time to passively listen and watch.
3. Technology promotes student choice and student voice
No matter how you slice it, creating differentiated lessons that cater to individual students is really hard! On top of that, traditional teaching methods usually only emphasize the voice of one person in the classroom, the teacher. Learning experiences without much room for choice or voice aren’t effective. But, technology opens up a world of websites, videos, applications, and programs that suddenly make this much more achievable! If you really want students to become stewards of their own learning, you must equip them with resources that develop their personal choice and personal voice. There are literally hundreds of tools that can make that goal a reality in your classroom! Don’t miss out on the chance to transform your classroom into the dynamic, stimulating, innovative space it should be!
4. It’s the future
There’s no denying that truth. We can either embrace the change and adapt, or we will be left behind. Students expect modern classrooms to be equipped with educational technologies. They also expect teachers to use those technologies to help them learn. Students deserve to have those expectations met.
Pause and reflect. Embrace and change. As the world evolves before our eyes and technology takes it rightful place in education, that’s the very least we can do for our classroom, ourselves, and our students.