At the stroke of midnight on January 1, plenty of educators will set resolutions to boost organization or experiment with new methods in the classroom. They’ll aim to improve test scores, switch up their grading workflow, or restore work-life balance. These goals are good ones.
Looking back at the last year is a natural way to reflect on big wins and pinpoint areas for improvement in the year ahead.
If edtech was a pain point for you - or something you’ve been avoiding in your classroom - we have four New Year’s resolutions to consider in 2016.
I Won’t Add Technology for the Sake of Adding Technology
If your larger goal is to experiment with more platforms and ultimately fold edtech into your day-to-day workflow, you’ll do yourself and your students a service if you strive to not add technology for the sake of adding technology.
What we mean by this is that edtech is here to help you and your students do things they could not do with paper and pencil alone. There needs to be real added value to a classroom with any new piece of tech.
Replacing a paper-based process with technology - and making no real improvements to that process - is, in our humble opinion, a waste.
As you experiment with edtech in 2016 and find new opportunities to connect and engage students, ask yourself what gains a platform is making. This question is a litmus test for tech that truly adds value to your workflow and lesson plan.
I Will Use My PLN
In other words: “I will ask for help” or “I will benefit from the experience of others.”
We’ve connected with educators who feel intimidated by the rapid release of new classroom technology. Yes. Keeping up is difficult. And it’s even more difficult if you expect to go it alone.
The best way for an edtech newbie to learn the ropes - or for an edtech expert to stay current - is to use the power of their personal learning network. This means asking questions on social media or dropping by Twitter chats, even if it’s just to listen and learn. This means zero shame is giving a colleague a call when you’re trying out a new program for the first time and are genuinely stuck on what to do next.
Ask lots of questions. Share experiences. And - whatever you’re trying to do with edtech this year - don’t do it alone.
"Ask lots of questions. Share experiences. And - whatever you’re trying to do with edtech this year - don’t do it alone."
Instead of One Big Goal, I Will Set Smaller, More Realistic Goals
Digitizing everything might be a tad ambitious. Resetting entire workflows or building a new 1:1 system are lofty goals.
But what if, instead, your goal was to assign a piece of homework digitally so you could spend less time in class telling students what chapter to read or what problem sets are due?
And, after that, what if your goal was to find a faster way to grade documents from Google Drive with a rubric? Finding a workflow with fewer steps would be a huge time saver and would connect more seamlessly with other systems you have in place that are working.
These smaller approaches are more manageable. Solve one problem at a time. Improve one process at a time. See more success over the calendar year.
I Will Cut Myself Some Slack
Be nice to yourself as you try new programs and platforms with your classroom.
Tech is evolving. Edtech companies (even us!) are constantly learning how to be smarter about serving classrooms. And as this happens, you might experiment with some stuff that doesn’t work. You might get student feedback that was totally unexpected. You might have hardware that breaks or use an app that crashes.
Do your research. Make reasoned decisions. Have some backup plans. And cut yourself some slack if a platform or initiative doesn’t pan out. This just means you’re one step closer to finding the program, tool, or platform that’s the right fit for your classroom.