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Sustaining Your Culture of Learning in a Technology-Rich Environment

What do you look for when you’re doing classroom walk-throughs? How do you know what students are learning when they’re using laptops? Often times, bringing technology into schools can cause a disconnect between how things were done before technology and how they’re done once technology is brought into the classroom. Learning looks different, but the general ideas are the same. Students are still learning the lessons, just using different tools.

Evaluating the use of technology in a classroom environment is not something most administrators are trained to do. It is easy to walk into a classroom and see that every student is using a computer, but how do you really assess if and what type of learning is taking place?

In the past, we have had administrators tell us “we walked into the teacher’s room and all the students were on laptops,” as though just the sight of students working on devices meant they were engaged in the learning process. However, we know that just because the students are on laptops doesn’t mean they are on task, or even learning.

Evaluating the Use of Technology in the Classroom

The following questions use the SAMR model to create a framework for evaluating the purposeful use of technology in the classroom. They can also help you identify the depth of earning happening when students are on digital devices.

Substitution: Is the technology just being used because it’s there in the classroom?

Augmentation: Is the technology allowing the teacher or students to do old things in old ways?

Modification: Is the technology allowing the teacher or students to do old things in new ways?

Redefinition: Is the technology creating new and different learning experiences for the students?

As you evaluate a teacher, try to look for answers to the suggested questions above. We are not advocating that every lesson should use technology or that every lesson should require students to do new things in new ways. However, it is good to know just how the technology is being used. There is nothing wrong with using an LCD projector, or Google Earth to visit a battle site. We get excited when we see both of these things happening in a classroom but is good to put it all into the perspective of what impact the technology is having on teaching and learning. If a teacher is only ever using technology at the substitution or augmentation level, then a conversation can start about how to move the use of technology to a deeper more meaningful level within the classroom.

It is wonderful to see teachers using technology in their lessons during an evaluation. It is even more informative if you can evaluate at what level that technology is affecting learning. Is it a replacement for the way we do things or is it something completely new and pushes both the students and teacher to new heights, new learning, and new knowledge?

Want to learn more about leading in a tech-rich environment? Register for our webinar, “Guiding Your School Community through a Successful 1:1 Launch.” We’ll be diving deep into launching a 1:1 program at your school Thursday, November 30th at 6 PM PST. Register here!

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