Tips for tech-savvy classroom teaching from two award-winning educators Mike Lang and Heidi Carr want teachers to embrace change and seek out innovative and technologically savvy ways to connect with and facilitate student learning.
Lang is the chief innovation program officer at ed. Xtraordinary, a Teach for America-powered program that aims to increase the rate of innovation among Las Vegas educators. Heidi Carr works for the Clark County School District in Nevada as an instructional facilitator. They were recognized for their innovative and forward-thinking work in Nevada schools at a recent Tech & Learning Regional Leadership Summit(opens in new tab) in California. They provide strategies for teaching with technology.
1. Tech-Savvy Teaching: Be Open to Change
“Great teachers evolve their practice to reflect the tools available to them,” Lang says. “That is true of anyone who has ever been a pedagogically sound individual with the desire to ensure that students are set up to be successful in whatever futures they may choose.”
This has always been true, even before new technological tools were widely available. “Great teachers have done this since the beginning of time,” says Lang. In short, remember that technology will never be a replacement for a great teacher.
2. Prioritize Student Voice
“Forward-thinking teachers continue to adapt and listen to their students,” Carr says. She goes on to say that modern technology makes running a student-centered classroom easier than ever before. “Our technology enables us to adapt instruction to meet the needs of our learners much more easily than in the past.”
Lang concurs. “Technology provides a much more authentic way for students to not only narrate their own journey but to present that story to others for feedback and improvement,” he says.
3. Don’t Be Afraid of Technology But Don’t Blindly Embrace it Either
ChatGPT and other AI-powered technologies have dominated recent headlines and much of the educational conversation. Lang believes educators should stop worrying about it replacing jobs.”When we get brand new things, people are like, ‘Oh, my God, this is going to replace this…'” “We get that coal miner mentality,” he says. Instead, he sees an opportunity for learning by examining what the technology cannot do, investigating the mistakes it makes, and comprehending its limitations.Carr agrees. “We need to embrace it and use it as a learning tool in our classrooms,” she says.
4. Develop An “Operating System”
To develop effective tech-savvy and general education strategies, educators must have the opportunity to test these practices, which requires more standardization of practices, according to Lang. Or the creation of what he refers to as an operating system.
“Your iPhone does not allow you to customize your operating system; everyone’s operating system is the same. “However, even though the operating system is the same, the apps available are different,” Lang says.
He compares this concept to the scientific method: no matter how innovative a scientist’s hypothesis is, they will still conduct their experiment using the standard scientific method. “A standard operating system would enable people to design for variation,” Lang explains. “However, what happens in schools, in general, is just variation. And it’s a situation in which every teacher is alone in their classroom with their door shut.”
Carr would like to see this approach to standardization with room for variation implemented in lesson development.
“I would love for every standard to go through the design-thinking process,” she says. “I believe that if teachers did that, we would get a lot more bang for our buck.”