March Madness Technology Challenge!

by Jamie Forshey

How in the world are basketball and education even remotely related, you ask? Well, for some teachers, determining how to best integrate technology into a lesson can be as overwhelming as picking a winner of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Just like there’s a science to determining the odds of a #16 seed knocking off the #1 pick, there’s an equally logical rationale behind deciding what type of technology will most effectively impact the learning process.

Children playing basketball with a ball up in sky

SerrNovik/iStock

The Great Tool Debate

With a myriad of web tools and apps available to teachers, it’s sometimes mind-boggling trying to identify which are the most effective for classroom usage. With educational resources spanning from audio recordings to collages, comics, posters, digital books, narrated slideshows, movies, animations and screen casts, there’s never a shortage when it comes to innovative ways to showcase student knowledge and skills. Seriously, if you can imagine creating it–whatever “it” might be, there’s… Yep, you guessed it! An app for that! Actually, there’s most likely two or three or nine of them…at least! So, the burning questions become which one should a teacher choose? And most importantly, why?

The End Game

If the game plan is to integrate technology for the sake of doing so, as opposed to infusing devices and tools to create meaningful learning experiences that are connected to real-world experiences, then expect an upset in the opening round. Instead, the quest for a championship should focus on pedagogy and strategy, not the tool.  

That said, there’s no official selection committee in the ed tech world; however, much like the job of an NCAA representative, the teacher’s role is to ensure the learning resource meets a certain set of criteria. The content, design, and testimonials are all important to consider, but only after the purpose of the integration has been clearly determined. Always ask yourself, what do I want to accomplish and why? Does the learning outcome support the curriculumAnd in the end, will the students come away with something “real” that will teach them a new skill or knowledge that will stick?

By carefully reflecting upon these questions, teachers can ensure that technology is not the main event, but instead just part of the process that enhances the curriculum. This way of thinking and planning will lead to students acquiring the modern-day information literacy skills that are necessary to compete in a high-tech global marketplace.

Tech-knowledge-y Matters!

Representing the schools of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication, here are 14 slam dunks for incorporating a digital spin to teaching and learning. One of these buzzer beaters from the ed tech playbook are sure to make the highlight film! 

Brack-tech-ology InfographicDuring your next science or social studies lesson, challenge your students to one of the Relevant Elite Eight activities in orange. Then see who moves through the ranks to become a lifelong champion of your unit! You’ll be surprised at the real-life tech skills they’ll pick up while engaging with your learning goals.

Jamie Forshey

Jamie Forshey is an Instructional Technology Specialist at the Bellwood-Antis School District located in Central Pennsylvania. She is the author of Edutech for Teachers, a blog dedicated to innovative teaching and learning through the use of emerging technologies and digital media. Follow her edtech adventures on Twitter and Facebook.

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