Supporting Practice With Emerging Technologies

Though often considered a supplement to classroom instruction, emerging technologies can and should complement teaching by enhancing differentiation and engagement. However, technologies — be they hardware or software — should be a means to an educational end; it is important that the technologies’ allure does not obfuscate educational goals to keep learning relevant and meaningful. In their report, The Digital Imperative, Terri Duggan Schwartzbeck and Mary Ann Wolf contended that, “[s]imply slapping a netbook on top of a textbook . . . will not necessarily lead to significant outcomes” (2012, p.8). In other words, the focus should not be on the technologies per se, but rather on how and when the technologies are used.
The How and When of Technology Use
Many emerging technologies are especially helpful in allowing teachers and students to generate, share, and save academic work. Programs such as the Google Suite for Education, Edmodo, and Showbie may have different features, but they offer communication and collaboration affordances that not only support a paperless classroom, but also empower students to be responsible and independent learners. One New Jersey high school teacher explained to me that he asks students to access Showbie and IXL in class so that the assigned sites become integrated into their routine; otherwise, students may view the required sites as supplemental. This highlights the importance of a classroom culture that honors and reinforces student-driven learning, something that is underscored in Mr. Pronovost’s classroom when students used specific software to work independently while also meeting face-to-face with the …