It’s time for us to admit the truth…all of the professional development, all the conversations, all the support, all of the posts, all the Tweets, all the apps and devices – none of it will help completely revolutionize technology use in education until those who evaluate our educators know what quality edtech looks like in the classroom.
Evaluators must understand technology integration and what good teaching with technology exemplifies. School leaders in evaluative positions can no longer say that they aren’t tech savvy and don’t really get technology. This sends a terrible message to staff and ultimately undermines the progress of technology integration in a school. Evaluators now need as much understanding of technology integration, digital resources, and edtech best practices as classroom teachers. Evaluators must think about technology as a tool for reaching educational goals. Technology is no longer an additional resource, it should now be embedded throughout the learning experiences of our students in all grades and content areas.
I continue to believe that technology is not the right tool for every learning experience. Sometimes paper, pencils, or crayons are the right tools but technology provides us with so many amazing opportunities to create and educate that evaluators need to understand the various levels of technology integration. Whether it’s the SAMR method or a technology integration matrix, evaluators must now be able to see the difference between an activity that has simply been substituted with technology from an activity that has truly been reinvented with technology. While substitution can be praised as a starting point for some – we must remain focused on moving beyond this level. We must follow that initial praise with a push to do more – to go further. If we continue to praise the lowest levels of technology integration simply because we witness technology in the classroom – we are never going to use technology to its full potential in education.