With technology, every teacher is a researcher

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When we think about the use of technology in schools, we often think only of computers. However, there are now so many more devices than just computers, which provide us with access to rich Internet content, the ability to instantly communicate and collaborate with others, to create and publish content to a world-wide audience, and heck, play! The list can include the following:

  1. Internet-capable HD television;
  2. SmartPhones or Internet-enabled mobile devices (iPhone, Android-based phones);
  3. Hand-held gaming systems (think Nintendo DS);
  4. Console gaming systems (XBox, Wii, PlayStation);
  5. Touch-screen computers (iPad);
  6. Personal audio players (iPod, Zune);
  7. Portable audio/video recorders;
  8. eReaders (Nook, Kindle, Sony Reader);
  9. SmartPens (LiveScribe);
  10. Drawing tablets (Bamboo).

With any of these devices, teachers and students can engage in complex and meaningful activities to research, collaborate, communicate, create, publish, transform, remix, and compete in a community of interconnected learners. All it takes is the willingness to think of education in vastly different ways from the past, accept that much learning occurs on demand and in context, and view mistakes as opportunities for growth.

So, during the next several posts, I will discuss some of these tools and how teachers can use them to enhance teaching and learning. But these posts are meant only to inspire and fuel your creativity. How you use the tool will be relative to your students’ and your own interests and needs. A statement I read from one of George Siemen’s elearnspace blog posts really resonated with me: “With technology, every teacher is a researcher. Find your answers, don’t appropriate from other contexts” (from http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/2010/11/02/questions-im-no-longer-asking).

In other words, teachers need to experiment with technology and teaching, adapting it for their own classrooms and contexts. Each teacher will find unique uses for technologies in her own classroom, based upon student needs, resources, skills, instructional contexts, and other criteria. Having an overview of the tools available and how they can be applied in the classroom is a beginning. But it is up to each teacher to be the researcher, to experiment, to make mistakes, and to figure out how to use the tool for her own purposes.

Next post: Netflix in the classroom.

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