What does it take to be great? A device in the hands of every student is not the ultimate answer. To make technology come together in the classroom takes a teacher with a unique set of skills. What does it take to be great? A device in the hands of every student is not the ultimate answer.
To make technology come together in the classroom takes a teacher with a unique set of skills. Skills probably not covered in their teacher preparation programs. So what is the recipe for success? The answer can be complex and long. To be brief, I will break it down into 3 areas. We call it "The 3 C's" for teacher technology productivity. What are "The 3 C's" for teacher technology productivity? Let's take a deeper look.
The key to teacher success with technology can be complex but it really come down to 3 areas.
- Confidence (professional development)
- Competence (modeling, best practices)
- Content (lesson development)
Although there are several components of a well developed technology plan, teachers and "The 3 C's" should be the focal point. When considering all of the complexities and variables involved with technology integration, the greatest variance usually involves the teaching staff.
Over the last 23 years, we have surveyed and conducted skills assessments with thousands of teachers. Our data shows a very consistent distribution.
- 10% - Well Above Average
- 15% - Above Average
- 50% - Average
- 15% - Below Average
- 10% - Well Below Average
This variance is greater than students' skill level variance or infrastructure readiness variance. Although most technology plans focus on infrastructure improvements and device acquisition, it is the teachers that required the most attention. Even plans that focus on students and digital curriculum strategies still lack enough focus on teachers and their need to acquire technology skills.
It's easy to look back and see where this shift began. Their seems to be two distinct camps in the edtech universe. One camp believes in automation, apps, educational games and software and the emergence of adaptive software solutions. Although a lot of venture funding and think-tank energy is being funneled into this area, it is not certain that this direction will ultimately make for better prepared life-long learners. Global citizenship and workplace readiness needs students that do more than master standardized tests. The workplace will require thinkers, problem solvers and creative types that have a mastery over technology and have the ability to innovate with technology in an analogue world. So how can "The 3 C's" impact the future?
Those "in-the-know" have found that a project-based learning environment can accomplish so much more than simply playing games or appifying the curriculum process. Although schools and districts need to address and prepare a digital curriculum strategy, hands-on usage and project-based learning approaches will give students the experience of using technology to solve educational problems. By looking at emerging trends such as DIY, STEM, Coding and the Maker Community, it is clear that these approaches can prepare students in a more complete way. However, it is also clear that this approach required a more savvy teacher. This is where "The 3 C's" strategy comes into play by preparing teachers to thrive in this environment. Yes, more time up front for professional development, modeling and lesson development needs to be done. An investment in "staff" instead of "stuff" is required for this method to work.
There is no denying that apps and game environments can benefit students. Creation and hands-on application of learning can benefit students long term. Does it require more teacher involvement? Absolutely! But the payoff is a more well rounded student that is better prepared to venture into the world and be productive. Competition will be fierce for these students and it is our obligation to send them into the world prepared to do battle. Other countries are doing this already. It's time to get back to work and make sure we leave behind a strong legacy.