This article was written by guest author Julia Ewart. Julia is an experienced educator who has been working in educational technology for the last 8 years. She is able to inspire all types of educators to be innovative in their teaching approaches and curricular design. Julia is also a DC sports fanatic, dabbler of new recipes, and lover of sunshine!
Education is the only industry that is inundated with hundred of educational technology (edtech) tools. These myriad of tools exist to better both the practice of teaching and to help students learn.
When it comes to edtech professional development (PD), is introducing teachers to more tools always better? As an Educational Technologist, I often debate whether exposing teachers to many tools is more effective than encouraging them to take a deeper dive with a handful of tools. Of course, you have to know your audience, but overall, I think the latter is true. Here’s why:
- Teachers have a full plate already- This is an age-old challenge. Between the demands of staying current with best practice, curricular changes, assessments, etc., teachers find themselves pulled in many different directions. Although edtech tools are intended to increase learning outcomes, aid teaching, and increase productivity, we must think critically about how many tools a teacher can both learn and use effectively at once.
- Empowers success- Achieving expert status takes time, energy, and focus. If teachers don’t have these resources available to devote to each new tool introduced, it could be both deflating and risk unsuccessful adoption. Teachers are already asked to be jack-of-all-trades; however, I believe that effective application can be achieved if teachers are allowed the time and space to learn a few tools rather than a vast array in a short amount of time. Once the initial hurdle of learning a handful of edtech tools is achieved, teachers will be more likely to want to take on the next challenge knowing they can succeed. Plus, who doesn’t like the warm, fuzzy feeling of accomplishment?
- Encourages innovation- Once the basics are down, there will be the capacity to expand the use of various edtech tools if teachers aren’t immediately asked to learn another one. The teachers I have worked with have then pushed themselves to move beyond obvious applications of the tool, start to think creatively, and truly begin to innovate.
So where does one begin? First, remember that going a mile deep is better than a mile wide. I recommend starting with a tool that has great range, one that can be used with many different content areas and in different capacities to meet varied learning goals. For example, a whiteboarding tool such as Educreations can be used to assess, publish, explain, and flip learning. With a bit of creativity, one tool can go a long way.
Stay tuned for a future article with more ideas on “tools with range.”