Technology in education is big right now. Really big. Today, buzzwords like “classrooms in the cloud,” “E-learning,” and “MOOCs” are the “overhead projector” of 1986 when it comes to staff room hot topics. I’m going to let you in on a secret – I struggle with using technology. Not in the way where I get frustrated if I can’t prevent cross-site scripting or DDoS attacks, but in the way where I get frustrated when my printer won’t print, only to remember after many hours of troubleshooting that I unplugged it two days ago when I vacuumed the living room. A lot of things come very easily to me, but using technology just has never been one of them.
Technology has changed the education experience throughout many schools, and undoubtedly helped countless students achieve success in areas where they previously struggled: adopting technology has been vital in providing differentiated instruction for learners with special needs; the use of multimedia has heightened learning by engaging students in new and exciting ways; and Edtech has introduced online options for homework help and tutoring that allows students and their families to continue the learning process from home. Edtech continues to pick up steam, as developers and educators partner up to create more software, apps, and tools designed to help students and teachers alike.
If you are like me, using these valuable tools can be a challenge – just setting up the microphone for my voice-to-text software was a two-hour ordeal, which included skipping dinner, a few tears, and the uttering of some choice words that are not appropriate for a blog that children could be reading. Yet despite the time, planning, and energy often involved in implementing technology into the classroom, countless teachers continue to embrace the challenge. So why do we do it?
For me, the answer is pretty simple – because I care. I care about how the potential success of my students could be improved by helping them become comfortable with technology. I care about giving my students with special needs equal opportunities in their education. I care about meeting the needs and interests of my students by engaging them in their learning with relevant materials. And I care about these things more than I care about spending my weekend completing tutorials on how to use my new laptop, learning how to run and update our classroom e-newsletter, setting up and monitoring online homework reading programs, or spending my evenings fighting with installing speech recognition software. Do some educators go through these efforts for a better teaching position, a raise, or recognition? Maybe. Do some educators stubbornly refuse to integrate technology into their practices? Definitely. Fortunately, all of the teachers I know are embracing Edtech for all of the right reasons, no matter how difficult it may be.
So, to my fellow tech-challenged colleagues: if you have ever had to Google what a “wordle” is, arrive in class an hour early to connect your tablet to a projector for the first time, or ask, “is this thing on?”, yet you continue to, sometimes painfully, take on these challenges for the sake of your students – you are not alone. I understand your struggle, and I applaud your perseverance in the quest towards successfully integrating technology into your classroom. At the end of the day, I think we would all agree that the effort is undoubtedly worth it.