Choosing classroom technology products

graduates for jobs that don’t even exist yet, but it’s true. This fact makes the focus on skills critically important. Before acquiring and broadly deploying any technology products, school leaders and system leaders must first set a vision around their use, asking, “What outcome or learning experience can be delivered via technology that either couldn’t be done as well or at all without it?” Right from the start, the focus needs to be on outcomes, not on tools. “And setting a vision once doesn’t mean you’re done. Regularly revisiting the questions that shape vision will keep it fresh and relevant through time. “Once the vision is set, two additional questions must be addressed – teacher readiness and infrastructure needs.

Teacher readiness I

n the first of our Feature Focus pieces this month, Nancy Knowlton, co-founder and CEO of Nureva Inc. and previously the co- founder and CEO of SMART Technologies, offers her thoughts on the best ways of specifying and choosing the right technology for you and your classroom.

“I am often asked, “What technology should we put into our classrooms?” To that question, I have a very simple answer, “The products that you believe will help you deliver your targeted learning outcomes.” I’m sure that answer is completely frustrating to the asker, but the question is impossible to answer more specifically from my perspective. A dizzying array of new and emerging technologies are targeted at the classroom, and I think it’s unwise to recommend almost anything without stepping back and asking and answering other higher-level questions first.

Vision first

“The primary mandate of education is to develop students with the requisite skills for learning and working in the 21st century. It’s almost cliché to say that education is tasked with delivering

The Nureva™ Span™ visual collaboration system in action


“Start with the assumption that continuous professional development is going to be required for the effective integration of any new tools in the classroom. For example, notwithstanding that teachers use a smartphone in their everyday lives, deeper consideration needs to be given to its use in real learning situations. For what and how might it be used? What has worked in particular situations, and, as importantly, what has not? Investing in teacher readiness to use chosen technology tools not only de-stresses their use, but it also increases the chances of successful adoption and use.

“One other factor needs to be considered – the technology readiness of teachers entering the profession. As recipients of graduates of teacher- preparation programs, schools and systems should actively engage with faculties of education to understand how they are preparing their

graduates for today’s classrooms. Are the professors modeling the use of technology in their own teaching and learning environments? Is the use of technology in the classroom integrated throughout the curriculum or relegated to a segment of a course in a single year as it so often still is? Using Microsoft® Word or PowerPoint® programs to prepare an assignment does nothing to develop skills around technology use in a classroom. Demanding that new graduates possess a depth of experience with the use of various technologies in the classroom is a powerful statement to these institutions.

Infrastructure needs

“Are there specific infrastructure needs that a new technology tool brings with it? For example, a school may choose a bring-your-own-device strategy. This sounds good to schools that are strapped for cash – after all, don’t most students already have devices at home or in their pockets? But there are implications for the school’s wireless infrastructure. There could also be a variety of unanticipated support questions – who helps students with their devices that they have totally personalized for their own private use? “And with more users on the network, is bandwidth adequate? If there is no Internet access, what happens? Does teaching and learning just stop?

“Addressing these three areas and having a clear statement about the role of technology in learning are foundational to the selection process for new technology. Administrators and teachers will all feel more confident in making choices and using technology in the classroom. Parents and students will be better informed and therefore aligned.

“There are some other considerations that you need to keep in mind as well.

Active experimentation

“New products and technologies are always emerging. Active and frequent experimentation should be encouraged at the classroom level. Start with a mindset that today’s experiment could become tomorrow’s tool of choice across the whole school or system.

“Experiments must naturally start with a January 2018

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56