Monday, October 26, 2015

What is the Best #EdTech Tool?

I recently responded to this question in one of my collaborative networks I. I think many of us have answered this question many times.

Hello All,
I was charged with the task of creating technology rich PD sessions for content area teachers. Could you share the best tech tools for Science, Social Studies, Math and Literacy for middle and high school students?
Thanks!

Here is the essence of my response:

Wow, big question with so many answers. We've been down this path from a few different directions with varying degrees of sucess.
I want to share some advice before sharing the tools.

1. The tools can be great and can be a catalyst for change, but they can also be a dead end if the a tool is no longer available for some reason. It is important to have a few choices to accomplish a task. I usually give my students a couple of options to see what works best for them. A list of tools to meet a certain set of skills helps steer us clear of the idea that there is only one way to get something done.

2. Start with the skills first. "What do you want students to be able to do with the content?" is an essential question we always ask when supporting staff. It is important to have a model or plan for why you uses the tools, not just what the tools are for.

Here are a few ways that we've successfully modeled our training and integration of technology to enhance instruction.


3. Try to find as many tools as possible that are not for a single subject, instead focus on tools that can be used across multiple subjects. Students are much more comfortable and effective learners with a handful of tools they can effectively use across classrooms. This will reduce the stress on both teachers and students to learn the tools.

4. Finally, it is important to consider the culture and teaching 1st. There is a big difference between a traditional teacher-centric culture and a student-centered 1 to 1 environment.

Here are a few of our main tool collections for staff:


If you have a specific need for a skill or concept, I can probably narrow down this list quite a bit. Just let me know in the comments below. 


How would your respond to this question?