Backwards Design for Technology

A few days ago I stumbled upon Bringing Twitter to the Classroom. Chris Bronke, a freshman English teacher, brought the endless connectivity into his classroom with technology.

twitter-logoWhile I have always seen myself as a technologically-centered teacher, I hadn’t thought about what that actually looked like. I am a pre-service teacher so cut me some slack…Of course I want my students to blog, tweet, and explore online resources. I want them to do it all! Why not, right?

As I read the article, I realized how off-target my philosophy of technology was. I wanted students to use technology fluently and consistently. But why? I didn’t have a solid answer.

Chris began his exploration into technology with a goal: he wanted students to interact with text. From this goal, he chose standards and objectives and THEN he worked to integrate technology into the lesson plan, not the other way around.

Instead of having students use technology for the sake of using technology, I realized that my goal should not be technology itself. The goal should be the skills gained FROM technology. As I had this earth-shaking epiphany, I breathed a sigh of relief. This type of backwards design for technology will make my teaching life so. much. easier.

Too often educators and school districts want to be technological so they enforce technology in the classroom. Many districts are purchasing ipads for all teachers and students without an overall goal.

“Here’s your ipad. Use it.”ipad

Without an overarching goal and proper integration, technology is tough. When technology becomes tough, students and teachers become frustrated and technology fails.

Technology should be integrated into lessons once overall conceptual objectives have been created. There are even technology standards for educators. In fact, I foresee some version of the ISTE standards becoming part of teaching requirements in the near future if they haven’t already been adopted by school districts.

ISTE Standards focus on six areas:

Creativity and Innovation

Communication and Collaboration

Research and Information Fluency

Critical thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making

Digital Citizenship

Technology Operations and Concepts

I like these standards because they are practical and applicable to situations both inside and outside of the classroom. With technology at our fingertips, it is important for students to learn appropriate technology skills because these skills are expected of them.

Honestly, looking at these standards, I have no idea how I will implement them into my classroom. In the next few weeks I’ll be taking a close look at the standards and reflecting on how I can meet each standard.

Because I don’t want technology to fail.

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