Classroom Technology:

From One Teacher to Another

Factors Influencing Tech Use in Classrooms

A 21st century education demands we incorporate technology in our classrooms, for all ages, all abilities, and all subjects. However, there are several factors that influence the degree to which a classroom becomes digital, and a growing body of research examining the motivations behind each. A few of my favorite reasons are listed below:

  • a teacher's perceptions of online education
  • a teacher's previous experiences with online education

  • school organization, infrastructure, and support
  • outdated perceptions of classroom instruction and pedagogy
  • constant changing of technology

  • amount of undergraduate training a teacher has in technology instruction
  • amount of time a teacher uses technology in his or her personal life
  • mastery of higher levels of teaching practice

I believe the last grouping has the most profound effect of how we use technology to enhance our instruction. Technology alone doesn't make excellent teaching; rather, it is a tool that excellent teachers use to expand their students' abilities. The TED talk below illustrates this concept, challenging teachers to engage students in new ways and redefine what it feels like to learn.

Best Practices for Tech Use in Classrooms

The goal of teachers using technology is to do things that were previously impossible; not simply replacing pen and paper with a keyboard, but expanding ideas and engaging students in new ways.

EdTech Magazine identified five key practices to elevate technology use in classrooms.

  1. Seek student input.
  2. Incorporate technology slowly, in phases.
  3. Experiment and vary applications to find out what work.
  4. Provide comprehensive and immediate professional development and support.
  5. Think about BYO (bring your own) device policies for low-cost implementation.

Once these basic practices are mastered, teachers need to understand that as tech changes and adapts, so will they. To facilitate teacher growth, simple Google searches, Pinterest boards, and Twitter feeds provide thousands of ideas of how current teachers are using technology. Regardless of the platform, a teacher committed to incorporating technology will always be seeking ways to network and communicate with others to improve his or her teaching practice.

In short, our job as teachers is to do the best we can to help students become the best they will be. Utilizing technology in consistent, innovative ways can help spark interest in our students and help them reach their full potential.

Tech and Student Achievement

We need to remember that technology alone will not improve student achievement--it is not a magic "cure-all" that will raise all test scores to meet Adequate Yearly Progress. It is, however, one of the best ways to create 21st century digital learners that are prepared to succeed at careers that may not currently exist.

The correlation between technology implementation and student achievement is clear. A 2008 study by the International Society for Technology in Education ( reports this relationship through a wide body of research. A few highlights of the study include:

  • double-digit improvements in 4th grade math over non-technology peers
  • improved science scores for at-risk middle school students in seven of eleven studies
  • increased levels of student classroom engagement
  • reduced behavior problems

We need to not only improve student performance on standardized tests, but we need to increase their self-efficacy, collaboration skills, and higher-level cognitive applications. The TED talk below demonstrates what students can do through technology that can transform what we do in our classrooms.