Talk tech integration and you will find any number of buzzwords, acronyms, and new ideas. No matter what you latch on to, in the end, the key to it all is the learning moments that are created by teachers. Teachers that believe in creating powerful learning opportunities for students, and who are able to leverage the technology that is available in their classrooms or schools. While 1:1 device programs offer added access, we see examples of amazing teachers that find creative ways to integrate technology despite limited access or other roadblocks.
If you haven't heard about Owura Kwadwo Hottish, a Kenyan educator who had no classroom computers, you need to research his story. Hottish didn't let that stop him from preparing his students for Microsoft certification tests, as he used his blackboard to write what his kids would have seen on a computer screen within Microsoft Word.
It is teachers like Hottish who remind us the human element of technology integration will long remain at the core of things. Without teachers who are able to create learning experiences, or powerful moments for students, the impact of technology will fall short. Don't get me wrong, there are still many strong uses for technology that can be done simply by providing access, but we know there is much more potential that can be addressed.
The Tweets above are two more examples of the human element of technology integration. Yvonne Smith and Laura Smith both recently used Flipgrid to allow parents and siblings to share a message of encouragement for students before state testing. Taking an already stressful day, and giving students a chance to get pumped up by loved ones, is nothing short of brilliant. Many teachers have done similar things through the years, by having families write letters or perhaps enjoying juice and donuts in the morning with parents, so this is nothing new. The key though is the idea of starting with the learning, and using tech where it makes sense.
We hear all the time that technology should enhance lessons, but what does this really mean. If you look at the tweets shared here, we see a perfect example of technology allowing us to do something to make moments or lessons more powerful. For Laura and Yvonne Smith's tweets, we have an example of Flipgrid. If you are not familiar, Flipgrid is a video discussion board, that is as easy to use as it is flexible. The teachers knew they wanted to capture moments of loved ones sharing encouragement with students. This was the objective of the activity. They didn't start off by looking at Flipgrid and asking how it could be used in their classes. The moment they wanted to create was the key, and they then found a tech tool that gave them a perfect portal to accomplish their goal.
The ability to be so adaptable is what makes Flipgrid so great. It is useful for so many things that are already being done in classrooms every day, but with added benefits. When teachers are able to create student centered learning opportunities centered around communication, collaboration, and critical thinking technology becomes a necessity rather than something that has to be "worked in." The next time you are looking to find a way to use a tech tool, STOP. Rethink what it is you really want to do, and then if something you want to do would be better done using a tech tool like Flipgrid, then use it, and if not, go about your business without the tech. The key, is don't give up on the tech possibilities due to your fear of not knowing what to do with it, but when it will make learning more powerful, find a tool that helps you accomplish your goals and get it in front of the students. In the end it is YOU, the teacher, that will make tech relevant and necessary. Take advantage of the access that is at your fingertips!