Monday, July 20, 2015

Why Use Technology? The 4 E's

This post is Part 4 of my year-end series on Coaching

I have started to frame a lot of the conversations I have with teachers regarding technology use in the classroom around the 4 E’s: Effective, Efficient, Engaging, and Enjoyable.  When we are considering a lesson and looking to improve or enhance it with technology, we want it to go back to one of those 4 E’s.  Sometimes a tool will serve more than one purpose from the 4 E’s.  I would argue that even if it serves one of the four purposes, it is worth considering to improve or enhance the teaching and learning occurring in your classroom.

Let me explain with a few probing questions…
Effective – Will using this tool make teaching or learning more effective?  Will students learn the material better / deeper because of this tool? Will this tool allow teachers to provide more timely and effective feedback to students – or allow students to provide more timely and effective feedback to teachers?
Efficient – Will this tool make processes in the classroom more efficient, freeing up time for more active learning, higher-order thinking, collaborative, or creative activities?  Will this tool help manage a teacher’s workflow so they are more focused on teaching and learning and less focused on organizing stuff?
Engaging – Will this tool engage students in their learning in a new or deeper way? Will this tool allow students to be more actively involved in their learning? Will this tool allow for greater collaboration among students?
Enjoyable – Will this tool make learning the content more fun for students?  Will they enjoy being in class and participating in the activity?  While learning activities (and tech tools) should not be chosen for the sole reason that they are enjoyable, I think that it is fine to select a tool that will just make things more enjoyable for students and/or teacher.
Let me give you a few examples of my favorite tools:
Why use Desmos in a math classroom?  I feel like it makes teaching more effective because the teacher can demonstrate and model in a much clearer, more interactive way.  It makes learning more effective because students have visual representations of what they are learning and are able to manipulate graphs in ways that allow them to build conceptual understanding.  I feel like it is engaging because, although on a computer, it is “hands on” and pretty cool to see what you can do to the graphs.  From my experience, it’s also enjoyable for students and they have fun exploring with Desmos.
Why use Google Docs/Slides/Drawings?  It’s definitely more effective – the teacher can provide feedback at any point through the writing process, and students can collaborate, comment, question, and share ideas with each other by clicking a button.  It’s much more efficient for teachers to have all the student work in a digital folder where they can access it anywhere instead of lugging around papers.  Using Doctopus in conjuction with Google Docs makes things even more efficient for teacher workflow, allowing them to focus their time on providing feedback to students rather than organizing files.  I also believe it is more engaging for students because of the collaborative possibilities, the tools available at their fingerprints (like the research toolbar), and the creative ways they can display their understanding through Google Drawings.
I could go on and on, but two examples will suffice for today.
What do you think of the 4 E's?  Is there something else you use that is similar?

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