What You’re Doing Wrong With Classroom Tech

The answer is that you’re likely under analyzing one important factor:

Using vs. Infusing (According to Merriam Webster)

1use noun \ˈyüs\

: the act of using something

: the state of being used

: a way in which something is or can be used

in·fuse transitive verb \in-ˈfyüz\

: to cause (a person or thing) to be filled with something (such as a quality)

: to cause (something, such as a quality) to be added or introduced into a person or thing

Back in the early 2000’s, I was a young budding high school teacher, and arguably the first in my building to begin substituting the old green chalkboard and the messy overhead transparency markers with Microsoft PowerPoint® presentations to deliver my lecture notes. Keeping a moist towel near the board to wipe the powdery gook from my fingertips after every sentence was getting old.

Besides, it was a health hazard! The yellow mess was everywhere: on my clothes, on my papers, in my hair, on my forehead, all over the floor and my desk. Washing the board and beating the erasers on the brick walls of the building wreaked havoc on my sinus cavity! On the days I used the washable markers on transparency sheets, the ink usually bled on my hands, where it remained many hours into the night. Let’s also remember the TV/VCR cart, and the array of movies in the media center (and the film strips if your tech was really dated).

One day while attending a workshop I got the bright idea to make more efficient use of lecture time by generating some PowerPoint® notes for my students. After all, I learned better during a professional development session if there was a display to view, than I did listening to someone talk and write on a board. Eventually, I requested a VCR to keep on my equipment cart for the year, since I could project the movie on the screen with the LCD projector. So I did it. My students loved it, but only because it was something different.

You see, there were a few things wrong with my method. My kids all felt compelled to write each and ev-e-ry word from the slides. No matter how many times I’d say, “Just summarize the information,” it would take more than three-fourths of the class period for them to finish copying notes! I tried printing class sets of slides for my students, but in a school where there is a limit on copies per teacher, that doesn’t work. Another reality was that they weren’t retaining the information largely because they spent the entire time writing and listening at the same time. I had left few opportunities for them to soak up the material. To find out how to end that madness, refer to this post.

Then came the sneers from some of my peers.

“It seems lazy to me,” my neighbor retorted after I asked what he thought of doing the same for his students. Old school was the concept that came to mind regarding his two cents! I guess it didn’t look like teaching. You know, me doing all the talking, drawing, and various acrobatics while my daunting lovelies admired my efforts.

Although he couldn’t yet see the emergence of technology that was imminent, he could see that the particular technology I was using, mostly seemed to benefit me. My kids had to write more than ever before, and in spite of the colorful displays and graphics, their learning was not greatly impacted by that technology.

In theory, I had only substituted the use a slide show for something that once essentially served the same purpose. However, to the untrained eye, my classroom was the tech zone! I only wish I could have referred to the SAMR and TPACK models for technology integration then. I would have known that it was futile for me to use all of the devices while my students looked on.

My students wanted to change the slides! They even wanted to switch the lights off during a video. They wanted to immerse themselves just like I did. I didn’t have the time within my loaded Biology curriculum to teach them how to create presentations. That was the Digital Media teacher’s job! Simply put, as long as I was implementing the technology, that was sufficient. Sound familiar? This was ten years ago. Some of us are still there!

Watch Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s explanation of the SAMR Model of technology integration.

In short, I was using the technology (so 20th century), but I failed miserably at infusing it (21st century). If we are all honest with ourselves, what would we say about tech in our classrooms? Is it enhancing the quality of student learning outcomes, or does it appease the masses who pass by and see the technology in use and assume that  we’re getting the job done?

While you ponder, look up at the top of this screen and leave a comment. Think some more and share this on your favorite social media sites by clicking on one or all of the buttons below. Lastly, just when you reach your epiphany, remember to follow the TechChick on Twitter, and this blog!

You’ve been great readers. Ciao!

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