Students using the Nureva™ Span™ visual collaboration system

premise about what the use of a new tool will deliver. The outcomes from using it must be actively measured against expectations and reported out as action research. Teachers should be recognized for their willingness to identify and try new tools. They should also be given a voice in sharing what they have experienced and learned.

Engaging with vendors/developers “Rather than keep suppliers at arms’ length, invite them to engage with you. If they can more deeply understand your ambitions and needs, they can better develop the tools that will help you achieve them. While there is undoubtedly a commercial aspect to their activities, the only way that they can achieve their objectives is to work closely with education to achieve theirs – a nice symbiotic relationship.

“Companies will often have programs designed to support early-stage experimentation. This means either free or significantly reduced pricing. Don’t be shy about asking if a program exists. Be prepared to offer something in return, something that is valuable to the company – namely, the learnings from your experiment and access to your teacher(s).

“You’ll find that companies will often invest in teacher skill development as well. The learning curve for the full and effective integration of a new technology product may be relatively steep, and evaluating technology you may not understand can feel daunting. Luckily, many vendors/developers provide detailed and thoughtful information about their products and the context for classroom use.

Hammer and nail “There’s an expression that goes like this: “If all

you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” One technology likely isn’t going to address every teaching and learning need. Be careful about thinking that it will. While some technologies may work at all grade levels, they may not deliver across all subjects. Be nuanced in choices of technologies for specific purposes.

“Adopt the mindset that different tools will support different learning objectives. While you may not be able to afford all of the specialized tools that you can identify or think you could use, you may be able to acquire the key ones that will make a difference in learning outcomes.

Refresh cycle

“Be prepared for a refresh cycle or product replacement with another product. This doesn’t just speak to thinking about financing product acquisitions, but rather the mindset that tools need to be kept relevant to evolving needs. There is also a great opportunity in this reality – with technology (specifically, hardware) products having a typical useful life in the range of 5 years, no choice is forever. We’d all like to think that everything will work out well, but sometimes it doesn’t. You’ll get another opportunity to make choices soon enough.

Student voice

“Students of all ages in today’s classrooms are most often at the leading edge of new tools and technologies, particularly in the area of social media. While they may not understand learning per se, they can be part of the process to set vision, consider constraints and solutions and make product selections. Let them know that their role is to ask questions and provide their insights.

Parent voice

“Keeping parents involved and aware is also important. Not only are they interested in what is happening in their children’s classrooms, they will also need to support some aspects of school technology choices at home. In some cases they will need to pay for devices that their children will take to school or they may pay a fee for the school to purchase and make devices available.

“One area of parental involvement can be particularly tricky, namely parent-directed technology acqusitions. While well-meaning, these choices most often will not have the fulsome research-based consideration that is required for education use. While many infrastructure tools are the same in business and education, many classroom tools are specialized to the needs of education. Parents alone may not have the insight into the availability of these tools and their pedagogical use or relevance. Working on a list of school-prioritized needs with parents who are eager to fund-raise can overcome this challenge.

“While the list could go on, we’re back at the beginning asking the question about the right technology for today’s classroom. In my view, there is no one single answer to this seemingly simple question. What is right today for one school, may not work for another today or tomorrow. Choosing the right products is inextricably linked to other factors like vision and teacher readiness. So, go on – experiment, engage with vendors, include students and parents. Keep evolving.

“Remember – it’s not about learning to use technology. It’s about using technology to learn where learning is truly inclusive, challenging and rewarding for students and teachers alike.”

The Nureva™ Span™ visual collaboration system makes learning fun January 2018 33

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