New Slide: The Gadget Happy Classroom Fail

Later today, I’m presenting a session for my longtime digital mentor and friend, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and her PLP peeps.  The theme of the session—and a lesson that I learned from Sheryl almost a decade ago—is that digital tools are only powerful when teachers think about their content and their pedagogy first.

Sheryl explains it this way: “Learning how to use technology is much different than knowing what to do with it for instructional purposes.”

That makes a ton of sense, right? 

(download slide and view original image credit on Flickr)

Then why has it become so commonplace for districts to jump on digital bandwagons, attempting to spend their way to success every time a new tool—-Interactive Whiteboards, sets of student responders, iPads, netbooks—-burst onto the Ed Tech scene?

How come it seems like we always forget to place instructional decisions first when we’re considering the technology that we want to integrate into our classroom practices?  Have we forgotten that teachers actually know a thing or two about efficient learning?

All that I know is that the gadget-happy, “spend first and ask questions later” mentality surrounding our technology purchasing decisions has resulted in nothing more than classrooms where the tools are changing but the teaching remains the same.

What a waste.


(Original image credit:  iPad Final by photog2009, licensed Creative Commons Attribution on January 7, 2011)

9 thoughts on “New Slide: The Gadget Happy Classroom Fail

  1. Stephanie Baier

    The real issue is not how do we integrate technology into our classroom. The real issue is acknowledging that Computer Technology should be a core subject and not treated as a mere tool in a teacher’s toolbox. Students need to learn computer science and information technology as deeply as they learn to read and write and as deeply as they learn math skills.


    Does anyone have an survey for teachers who might be interested in changing their way of teaching using iPads? We are getting a few iPads and most teachers would love to have and use one but our tech team has been asked to make or find ideas on how to qualify the teachers and how they will want to use them for curriculum. There must be some sort of questionnaire already available somewhere but I can’t seem to find one.

  3. Aerin Guy

    Karen Hume writes about this in her latest book, Tuned Out.
    We need to integrate technology in order to give our kids a true 21st Century Learning environment (they’re not going back in time when they graduate etc), but the technology isn’t the only factor in engagement. Karen talks about 5 critical areas of teacher AND student engagement: Competence, Creativity, Context, Community and Challenge. Creating these conditions will do more for learning than any of the latest tools.

  4. Shellran

    I really enjoy following your thinking on technology within education. As a student-teacher in a program that is heavily pushing technology on us, I used some of your quotes and thoughts within this post to relate the idea that MORE and NEW is not always BEST! One has to have time to assimilate and understand how to apply what has been learned before moving along to the next bit of new technology. Thank you for always being “Tempered” in your *Radical* approach– I love it!
    Hoping to be a “techie teacher” soon,

  5. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Hey Teacha,
    I’m glad that you’re using my slides!
    I create them for myself—they’re a much needed creative diversion for me—but I also create them for all y’all because I know you’re presenting and talking about the same topics I am.
    If I can make some of that work easier by sharing stuff I like to make anyway, it’s a win for both of us.
    Rock right on,

  6. Teacha

    I hope you don’t mind but I love to use your most recent slides as my desktop background. As a professional developer these slides are always good conversation starters and reminders for those of us who teach and learn.
    Thank you.

  7. Fluxion Fred

    Yeesh. Our district just won a huge (six-digit) grant and is spending most of it on iPads, without consulting our administrators or teachers. I’m pleading with everyone to buy us a few printers. 🙁

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