Remember these key things when assessing and reassessing technology changes in your school
Before you spend precious budget dollars on new equipment, it’s important to take the time to answer some critical questions. You don’t want to see the equipment sitting in a corner unused because teachers aren’t comfortable using it, or aren’t able to use it effectively to engage students. There are many different facets to examine when choosing new or different classroom technologies. When we implemented a pilot program at Donald McKay School with Mimio, we started by asking ourselves the following key questions:
- Why are you using technology?
- How does it promote equity?
- How will it engage students?
- How will it empower teachers to improve classroom instruction?
- Will the technology steer the class so that it is still student-centered learning?
- Is there good support from the solution provider?
- Does the technology help your students achieve the learning goals and outcomes that you have set for your students?
The reason you are using technology in school needs to be your first consideration.
You can’t just assume that by using technology, your students will engage in their learning or that results will improve automatically.
When we decided to implement education technology into our curriculum, one of our principal goals was to create a plan and policy for all members of the learning community to have equitable access and use. You should consider appropriate funding sources and professional development. This represents the key means of supporting equitable access and use of technology to ensure what some call ‘technology literacy’ and to support meaningful learning for all students.
Deploying technology in education can help remove inequities between the schools of the inner city and the suburbs, between cities and rural districts. In fact, technology can become the force that equalizes the educational opportunities of all students, regardless of location and social and economic circumstances.
Before we committed any money to classroom technology, we carefully considered the eight questions above. We determined that the following features were critical:
- Provides Instant Feedback. Getting immediate feedback is one of the major factors that drives intrinsic motivation. Ever wonder why playing video games is so enticing to children? All good game designers build intrinsic motivation into their games. The programs you implement should make it fairly simple to preview and easily edit completed work. Too many programs on the market have clunky user interfaces that are too cumbersome to work with, causing the students to lose interest.
- Encourages Creativity. Who doesn’t want to encourage creativity in the classroom? It’s the one skill set that will benefit everyone, regardless of their future occupation. And, let’s be clear…it’s not just about art projects. It’s about the ability to think outside and around the box, problem solving, developing critical thinking skills, and even presenting information in a unique manner. These skills are in high demand in the 21st century workplace, and they should be equally mandated in classrooms.
- Offers Real-time Collaboration. When you have students working together on the same project at the same time from their own device, you will find that classroom management issues are reduced. As we all know, idle hands can lead some students to get into mischief.
After looking at other options, we found that Mimio’s software could offer us the flexibility we needed for student collaboration and could also leverage the devices we already had by adding their mobile app. Our school was supplied with an assortment of MimioClassroom™ technologies, and we undertook a rigorous, ongoing evaluation of the usability and effectiveness of the instructional tools.
We received wonderful technical support from Mimio. To be honest, though, it was so quick to install and easy to implement that many of our teachers at the Donald McKay School didn’t miss a beat in integrating the products and software into their curriculum and lesson plans.
I often say, buying technology isn’t efficient unless it’s going to be useful. And the things that will make it useful are its interactivity, intuitiveness, and ease of use. We found Mimio technology exceeded our expectations.
To learn more about our program, download this case study.>>