According to author Adam Bellow, The Tech Commandments are a reaction to what he has seen and experienced in schools over his several years as a technology training specialist. We got connected with Adam through Twitter, and he graciously gave us permission to share a condensed version of these commandments with our readers.
Training is Essential
Providing training to staff is almost more important than the technology itself. If a school spends its entire technology budget to buy “stuff,” but nothing on teaching and supporting the use of the “stuff,” it is a huge waste. Training and support should be a top priority.
Money Isn’t What Makes Educational Technology Work
Buying an expensive camera doesn’t make you a good photographer. It just means you spent a ton of money on a piece of equipment. The same is true with educational technology. A school may have an interactive whiteboard in every classroom, but that doesn’t mean the technology is being used successfully.
Restricting Access is Too Extreme
Students need to be kept safe from offensive areas of the web. Hate speech, pornographic content and graphic violence should be blocked from students inside school and out. However, students need to be educated on this topic as well. And education for parents is just as important as filtering the web at school.
Banning Tech Tools is Detrimental
In addition to blocking websites, schools often limit the tools students can use in the classroom. Most students own cell phones that are valuable learning tools. Not only can these phones enhance the learning experience, they can save schools money by serving as calculators and student response systems.
Teach with an Understanding of Today
Students live in a world that is rich with interactive experiences. School is where students need to be most engaged, yet many see school as an interruption. Students are immersed in a culture that speaks to them in rapid, flashy moments, and they’re plugged into a 24/7 network of communication and information.
Collaboration is Key
Collaboration is important and technology can make it more meaningful. Wikis, Skype and Google Docs provide real-world opportunities for students to work together in a learning environment, developing the skills they will need to enter the workforce.
Schools Need Direction
Just as educators spend time thinking about a scope and sequence for their curriculum, they need to think about bringing technology into classrooms. Based on what works, and what needs work, they must choose the tools that maximize the effectiveness of the school’s educational technology.
It’s Okay to Try
Using new technologies in a classroom can be tricky. Trying and failing is all right. The students are learning, but so are the teachers. Not using the technology for fear of failing is just as foolish as it sounds. Even the most knowledgeable teachers continue to hone their lessons to improve the classroom experience.
Tech for Tech’s Sake Can be Worse than no Tech At All
Technology is a tool and needs to be treated as such. When a student is doing math, that is the time to use a calculator. When a student is writing an essay, it’s likely that the calculator is useless. Teachers need not infuse technology forcefully into lessons that will not be enriched by its use.
Understanding Buzz Words and Keep Your Fingers on the Pulse
Technology changes so rapidly that it’s hard to keep up with the latest devices, websites and software. Educators need to make a vow to know what’s behind the terms being used in the educational technology industry. They should be open to new technologies, especially if their students use them.
Adam Bellow is director of educational technology for the College Board Schools. In addition, he is founder and president of eduTecher, a free website that helps educators integrate technology effectively into the classroom. eduTecher offers links to hundreds of web tools and sites, and provides information on how these tools may be used in the classroom. A free eduTecher iPhone application is available for download as well.