Too often when we discuss technology and what to use in our classrooms we get caught by the flashy gadgets, the promises of something new, or the latest tool to be sweeping the community We think we need the newest thing to keep us current and connected. We think we need more tools to have better tech integration. And yet, I often find that it is not so much about getting more tech, but rather using the things I have better. So what does this teacher really want from her tech tools?
- User friendliness. I am not afraid of technology, meaning I will gladly play around with something until I make it work, but sometimes even I throw in the towel. If a new tool is not something I can figure out a little within a half an hour then I doubt it will find a permanent home in my classroom.
- Global Collaboration. I love integrating things that can connect my students to the world. So whether it is a Kidblog account, a Chromebook, or a digital camera, the tech I use needs to serve a higher purpose of creating global citizens.
- Ease of Integration. I like to bring in a new tool or site and then see how easily my students gravitate towards it. How easily do they find ways to integrate it into our every day learning. That is not to say that it all has to be easy, but if my students never use it (like our Livescribe pen) then I know it is not the best fit for us.
- Multi-people-functionality. I have many gripes about SmartBoards, but a huge one is that only one child can use it at one time. I have 26 students, they need to be engaged in their learning at all times. Watching one kid (or one teacher) write on a fancy board does not equal engagement.
- Reliability. For a tool to truly find a permanent home in my classroom it has prove itself over and over. It needs to work when we need it to work, and although we will excuse the occasional glitches, if a tool proves to be unreliable then I am not wasting my time on it anymore.
- Security. I am entrusted with 10 and 11 year old’s as they venture online and get connected so whatever we use in our classroom has to provide me with a level of safety for these kids. That doesn’t mean filters to block out the world, but ways to keep these kids’ information and work safe while exploring the world.
- Accessibility. The best tools live in the cloud or are portable, most of the time.
- Purpose. The tools we use need to have a deeper purpose of enhancing our curriculum, not just be a flashy tool to get my students’ attention. So if we are investing our time using something, then there needs to be a deeper purpose behind it.
- Fun. Who can forget fun? Tech tools should also be fun to use (most of the time) otherwise they just become one more thing to do. We don’t need more things we have to do.
What things do you look for when picking a tool for your classroom?
I am a passionate (female) 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day. First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classroom Back to Our Students” will be released this March from Powerful Learning Press. Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.