Using technology in educational settings has always been advocated, especially within the last twenty years or so. The sheer amount of educational-based hardware and software is staggering. Some (the uninitiated, maybe) seem to feel that it technology is a band aid that can be applied to fix a lesson that is missing something, or seems to dry for students. I am a huge proponent of using technology in (and out of) the classroom. However, I always ask myself two questions when I am thinking about inserting some sort of technology in a lesson, and it’s the same two questions I have asked other instructors when they have asked me for advice in beefing up their lesson(s):
- Is it really necessary?
- What is your definition of technology?
Is it really necessary?
My first question always seems to throw people, especially when they hear it coming from an instructional technologist/designer. But, it’s an honest question. Do you really need it? Are you just trying to hide behind it? As an instructor, you need to answer this question honestly. The reason I ask it, is because maybe you don’t need it, and trying to find the technological fit for your lesson may be very time-consuming and just not worth it in the end, to be honest. Remember, it should be an additive, and not a crutch.
What is your definition of technology?
Technology is the shiniest, the newest, the coolest, right? Well, no, it isn’t. Technology is whatever you want it to be. It all depends on your lesson, and what you want the students to get out of it. Everything I do on the job has technology involved with it, due to the nature of what I do. But, some enterprising ideas can surprise you, and they are considered low-tech. For example, would you consider a pair of shoes technology? Maybe not in a college environment, but I can bet that a kindergarten teacher would (or should) answer that they are. Technology can be defined widely, but any sort of “thing” is technology, as it is generally defined as anything that can be used in the execution of learning processes.
With that, be sure to ask these two questions when you are deciding whether or not to use technology in your lesson. You will thank me later.
Instructional Media Design Specialist
Center for Academic & Professional Excellence