If a classroom gets iPads, a question you will often hear immediately is, “What apps should I download?” In our concern for machines taking over education, we often do things that encourage machines to take over our teaching. I have been privy to seeing many educators use “flashcard” apps with students, not because they see it as a better process, but because they feel they need to justify iPads in their classroom by using them (the device) in some way with their students. This is often because devices are thrust onto educators without much thought and support on what is possible to do with them and how this aligns with the vision of the community.
I always ask educators to think, “What could you create with this iPad that you couldn’t create before?” Focusing on what we can “create” versus what we “consume” only, is a great starting point. It is not that consumption and content isn’t important. It is just that both consumption and creation should be evident in education for true deep learning.
Technology accelerates everything, including bad practice in education. Have you ever heard of scantrons? To me, they are often accelerated bad practice. Now if you use a scantron to mark some assessment here and there, I do not think that you are a bad teacher. If you use it all of the time for everything you do, I would be concerned. While we are asking kids to think deeply and critically in schools today, if what they are doing can be summarized in a bubble sheet, then I think we are missing the mark. Again, there are no absolutes, but we should always look at how what we do and what we say corresponds in our classrooms and schools.
I created this image after I wrote, “The Innovator’s Mindset“, and it is meant to spur on conversations on where innovation in education really starts:
If you notice where the process begins, with the question, “What is best for this learner?” Starting backward from there helps us move forward from the student, not necessarily the teacher. I have encouraged people to understand that every “best practice” in education was once an innovation. Someone said, “What we are doing is not working for our students”, and subsequently did something different that worked for students.
This is NOT to say that you shouldn’t use technology with your students. Technology allows us to do things that we couldn’t do without it. It is just that we should be asking, “What would best serve our students?”, not “How do I work this device into my classroom setting?” Using technology in your classroom does not make you innovative; what your students do, create, and learn, because of the work that happens in our schools and classrooms, will always be the measure to which we should determine if we are truly moving forward to successfully serve our students.
Using technology in your classroom does not make you innovative; what your students do, create, and learn, because of the work that happens in schools and classrooms, will always be the measure to which we should determine if we are truly moving forward to successfully serve our students.