Digital Natives have grown up with technology all around them for their entire lives. They need no instruction in order to figure out how to move apps around on their iPad, tweak the settings to their liking, change the passcode to 1234, and changing their lock screen to a duck-faced selfie. But making use of an iPad for educational purposes? Not as obvious to students. They don’t know what tools are out there or how to make the best decisions when using them. While they will figure things out very fast because digital natives are usually willing to experiment and tinker, don’t expect that they innately understand the purpose and benefit of educational technology.
Teaching with tech has slowed things down in my classroom when we are initially learning how to use it properly. For instance, students have never used Padlet.com. When I had them use it to post pictures of bullying scenarios that they added captions to using Phrase.it, it did require me to show them what Padlet was going to be used for and how it is a great tool for showcasing student work. I also had to show them the simple interface so they could add their work. Or when we were doing a discussion thread on Canvas, I had to remind them that proper punctuation and spelling was expected. And adding selfie comments was not going to add to a meaningful discussion. Modeling expectations and giving timely feedback is as important as ever!
Just like any new teaching strategy, it does take a little extra time the first time you do something with a class. It’s easy to give in to the nagging feeling that pencils and paper work 100% of the time and perhaps wouldn’t waste precious face-to-face minutes. But quickly it will become easier each time you use a tool. But if the tool isn’t better than paper, is there a purpose to using it?
Meaningful technology integration is really about doing things that were previously impossible. And kids will see through the facade if your technology integration is superficial. Remember what iPads are great for; creating digital media, sharing it with the world, collecting formative data, differentiation on the fly, researching our interests/passions, organization of calendars and documents, connecting with classrooms across the globe, connecting with experts in the field. These are just some of the possibilities that are now a reality in a 1:1 classroom environment. Sometimes it helps students to stay organized by having all their notes and work in the convenient package of an iPad but we can’t stop there. If you are stuck or are looking for ways to move beyond substituting tech for paper, contact a DLC!