It’s Monday, and I’ll be doing a couple of technology how-to workshops for students today. These workshops will focus on advanced techniques in PowerPoint and how to use Google Page Creator to set up a web site. But before I do that, I will try to communicate a major challenge in integrating technology. It’s a sort of Catch-22: Before you select the technology, you need to zero in on your instructional objectives or what you want to achieve. However, in order to select the proper technology to reach your goal(s), you need to know what technologies are available and what they can do.
When I used to teach EdTech 202 (that’s the course that all pre-service teachers needed to pass as part of their teaching credentials), it was a real challenge to help those students learn how to create technology-rich instruction, while at the same time pointing out that the best way to create effective instruction was to figure out your learning goals and then select the proper tool, whether it involved using technology or not. It’s always a delicate balance between deciding on the tool(s) and helping students reach their learning goals.
So, for today’s workshop, one of my challenges will be to help these students understand that first they need to figure out just what they want to achieve and then after that, select the best tool(s). Here are some examples that illustrate this concept:
- If your purpose is to provide important news through an interview, along with a critique and commentary, then your best bet might be to post a podcast or audio file to a blog, along with photos from the interview and comments.
- If you want to inform Spanish-speaking parents about a health issue for their children, then maybe a flyer or brochure distributed through the schools would be the best way to reach that audience.
- If you want college students to change harmful health habits, then you might want to design a self-study course, along with pre- and post-surveys to determine if attitudes and behaviors have changed.
In other words, decide what you want to do first and then select the tool. As you continue to work with technology, this will not only make your work easier, but you will gain new skills along the way, as you strive to incorporate more tools into your instruction.