Tech Tools for Teaching – One Rule

Teach Better TeamBlog, Tech Better

One Rule for Technology in Your Classroom

One Rule for Technology in Your Classroom

GUEST POST – Tiffany Ott

Gifted Intervention Specialist – Cleveland, OH.

Watch out guys I might be getting on a soap box here.

I am about as much of an ed-tech junkie as you would find in any school around the country. I use technology in my classroom everyday and encourage (nag?) others to do so as well. But (and this is a big but) I require that every use of tech in my classroom follow a single, super important rule. As you are considering incorporating technology into your classroom I want you to also think about this rule. If your use of tech does not follow it, don’t use the tech no matter how cool you or your students think it is.

So what is this mysterious rule that I’m talking about? I’ll get there eventually; I promise.

A little background first.

Everybody knows that technology is expensive. In fact, I’m sure you have heard conversations in your school about how we can’t afford computers or iPads or Chromebooks. They are too expensive; it’s just not in the budget. Perhaps you have tried to investigate the cost of tech for your classroom on your own like I did, only to discover that it is indeed incredibly expensive to provide internet capable devices for all students you work with.

In these times, when school budgets are usually decreasing and districts have to decide between fixing a leaking roof or keeping teachers, it becomes hard to justify purchasing technology. In light of this, there have been many blog articles, research papers, and publications that suggest using tech in the classroom is not, in fact, affecting any positive change in student learning (with a few notable exceptions).

You may be wondering yourself, “Why on Earth should I use it if it’s not making a difference in how my students learn?”

I propose that the reason research shows that tech integration does not make a significant difference is because it’s not used correctly. In fact, perhaps one teacher out of ten actually uses Ed Tech to improve student learning. What is it that the others are doing wrong? Why is their use of tech in the classroom not working?

Now we can finally come back to the rule that I mentioned earlier: the rule that all tech must follow before it enters my classroom.

Technology must improve, not replace, instruction.

It’s that simple, folks. If the tech you use replaces instruction, it’s useless. Yes. Completely useless and a waste of resources. If it actually improves instruction, it’s allowed in my classroom.

Using technology to simply deliver a lecture or read something that could be found in a library book, encyclopedia, or printed out is not effectively using technology. Unfortunately, this is the way I see most technology being used in the classroom.

  • Watch a video online.
  • Answer a question in Google classroom.
  • Take a quiz on Google forms.

None of these things will notably improve student learning. There is no difference between taking a quiz in Google forms and taking a quiz on the piece of paper, except for the paper saved by doing it electronically. This is not what your students need. We are looking to transform education and the way students interact and engage with content. I know that technology can have that transformative power, but not if we remain locked into the processes and procedures that education has followed for decades.

So how do we use technology in ways that actually IMPROVE, not REPLACE, the ways we teach and the ways our students learn? Stay tuned!

I’ll be back with more!


About Tiffany Ott

Tiffany Ott is a Gifted Intervention Specialist in Cleveland, Ohio, currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Educational/Instructional Technology. With experience in multiple grade levels and subject matter, Tiffany brings a wide-ranging wealth of knowledge and will be sharing some of her thoughts with us from time to time. You can connect with Tiffany on LinkedIn here.