Getting Smart recently published an article entitled “How to Keep your EdTech Tools from Gathering Dust”. It outlined the importance of making sure that classroom technology continues to get used rather than sit in the corner. Unused education technology, the author stresses, can be chalked up to poor implementation. There is no question that a poorly-executed implementation of a new product can lead to technology going unused. But might there be another possibility? Is the technology outdated? And if so, how do you know when it’s time to give technology the boot?
Answering the question “is my technology outdated?” is not always simple. Technology continues to get faster, smarter, and offers a plethora of new and advanced features for teachers to use. It is important to understand that the introduction of a new technology does not automatically make your old technology outdated. If you have an interactive whiteboard that requires a pen stylus, it does not mean that it should be considered outdated in comparison that an interactive whiteboard that does not require a pen stylus. The two will still yield the same basic results, pen stylus or no pen stylus.
Let’s discuss the overhead projector as an example. The overhead projector was innovative for its time, as it allowed students to view any annotations that the teacher was making on a translucent sheet. It provided a clearer picture (and allowed for more flexibility) than simply writing on a chalkboard. How was one to know when the overhead projector was outdated? When new technology was invented that solved the issues of the old technology.
While overhead projectors allowed students to clearly see annotations on translucent sheets, the teacher was limited to those specific sheets they were using. The introduction of regular projectors to the classroom allowed teachers to pull up anything on their computer, including websites and other software. The introduction of interactive whiteboard technology allowed the teacher to pull up anything on their computer, control it from across the room, and annotate on what they pulled up on their computer.
By not being able to pull up anything on the computer, teachers were missing out on a great deal of resources they could utilize in the classroom, which could inhibit student learning. Using the overhead projector as an example, here are the three important questions you need to ask yourself to distinguish whether your projector is outdated:
- Is your technology static?
Is your technology a “one trick pony”, so to speak? The ideal piece of education technology is one that can continue to change and adapt based on the wants and needs of teachers and students, whether it is in the hardware or software. It is difficult for technology to become outdated if it is constantly improving. Irina Tuule, co-founder and VP of Strategy and Communications at Eduporium, discussed the importance of dynamic technologies in our "How to Create a Makerspace" blog. As Irina said, "multifunctional tech tools are great for students to play around with and use to unlock their creativity."
- Can your technology be integrated and used with other technologies?
There are so many new education technology products on the market today that benefit student learning. The ideal education technology product will be able to work with other education technology products. Sometimes, it takes a bit of creativity to fully understand how a product can be used with other types of technology. As we mentioned in our "EdTech and the Hundredth Monkey Effect" blog, one teacher began using QR codes in conjunction with BoardShare. She utilized QR codes to heighten collaboration between students, and create fun team challenges. Students were broken up into different groups, and would scan the QR codes for different problems they needed to solve; using a tablet mirroring device, students would answer the question on the BoardShare whiteboard space from their iPads and write their team name over their work.
- Are your students not reaching their full learning potential because you’re still using the same technology?
This is certainly the most important question to ask. If your students are unable to access important resources in the classroom, or are not learning as effectively as they could be, then it is time to update your technology.
It’s important to note that, technology that may be considered outdated by one teacher may not be considered outdated by another. It is fantastic if a teacher or technology director is open to trying new technology products, and have the budget to add those products into the school or classroom. If the technology is dynamic, can be used with other types of technology, and enhances student learning, there should be no need to replace it.