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July 26, 2022
Ask Our EdTech Expert

Too Much Tech!

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Classroom technology tools abound, but these three considerations can help teachers narrow the pool.

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Q: I'm overwhelmed with all the technology options to bring into my classroom. What should I look for before deciding to introduce a new tool to my students?
—Digitally Overloaded
A: There are so many options when it comes to educational technology, and it can definitely feel overwhelming at times. Not only do new products come on the market frequently, but popular products often add new features and updates throughout the school year. Acknowledging that not everything will be the right fit for your students is an important first step. Here are three considerations when looking at new edtech.

1. Embrace Your Place

The first tip I would give is to “embrace your place.” The place I am referring to is the hub or central tool your school and district uses—possibly Microsoft Teams or Google Classroom. Even if it’s not your favorite, or not the one you would pick, learning how to use it and what tools work well with it will save you so much time and energy. It will streamline the workflow for you and your students and avoid some of the clunky issues that take place when working with tools that aren’t very compatible with one another.
Once you’ve embraced your place, you can evaluate new tools with questions like:
  • Will this work nicely with our current learning management system (LMS) so it’s easy to post instructions or links within our LMS?
  • Can students use a single sign on (like through Google or Microsoft) or will they need a new account and password?

2. Evaluate Its Use

Another thing to consider is whether this new tool will serve one purpose or multiple purposes. Sometimes a “one-and-done” type of tool is completely necessary for one specific goal, and that’s totally fine. For example, you might have students working with a partner class in a different country and you need a tool like Soundtrap for Education that will let you create a podcast asynchronously.
But it’s also great when you can find a tool that you can use for multiple projects throughout the school year and in more than one way. For instance, you can use a movie-making tool with 5th grade students to make math tutorials at the beginning of the school year and revisit the same tool when creating poetry slideshows at the end of the school year.

3. Be Discerning

A third consideration is: Does this tool or features within this tool overlap with ones I already have access to? If so, you might not need something new at all. You may already have technology that your students are familiar with that can help accomplish the same goal. For example, say you found a tool that lets you leave audio comments on student work that could totally transform the way you give feedback. But then you realize that Seesaw, which you already use, gives that same option. Problem solved.
The good news for educators is that there is an abundance of tech tools now available. However, taking a little extra time to pause, reflect, and choose tools intentionally will help ensure we aren’t overwhelming ourselves or our students.

Monica Burns, EdD, is a curriculum and EdTech consultant, ASCD Faculty member, and founder of ClassTechTips.com. As a classroom teacher in New York City, she used digital tools to create an engaging, differentiated learning experience to meet the unique needs of her students. Burns has led workshops and webinars and provided keynote presentations to teachers, instructional coaches, administrators, and tech enthusiasts at numerous national and international conferences, including SXSW EDU, ISTE, and EduTECH. She hosts the Easy EdTech Podcast and is the author of EdTech Essentials: The Top 10 Technology Strategies for All Learning Environments and Tasks Before Apps: Designing Rigorous Learning in a Tech-Rich Classroom, among other publications.

 

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