Photo by Golden Nugget Restaurant

Food buffet culture has taught me to choose wisely, but I’m not without the occasional dilemma: ‘Should I eat a little of this or a lot of that’, or  ‘I know that I’m already full, but when will I have another chance to eat this or that’, and my biggest weakness, ‘There’s always room for desert’.  I usually don’t spend a lot of time pondering my options, but from experience, I’ve learned not to overindulge too much.  However, no one has ever laid a buffet before me with the following instruction: “Choose one or two items to eat every day for the year.”  If that weren’t ludicrous enough, imagine if they add this: “Oh, and by the way, you have to take a few hours to learn how to prepare this food so that you can serve it to your family everyday.”  I think it’s time to look for a new buffet restaurant.  Yet, in essence, many teaching professionals are asked to do this with instructional software.  The buffet of technology tools and packages is laid before the teachers; he or she can only choose one or two (even if they are free from the internet) because becoming familiar with the software requires a significant time commitment on top of the already busy schedule.

Most institutions make administrative decisions for technology infrastructure, and in many cases they will also choose instructional software, therefore they must also consider faculty training.  At this point of the process of technology integration, many teaching professionals resist because they either lack the time or foundational knowledge to pursue training, and quite often, they don’t see their lack of technology integration as a hindrance to education. (Kopyc, S. 2006).  Kopyc goes on to claim that training is not enough to insure technology integration, but a strong continue support is also needed.  With every new software or application a teaching professional passes through a learning curve before he or she applies it to a teaching approach, and for teachers with less experience with technology, the learning curve increases.

Regardless of wide adoption of software by an institution, individual teachers still have many personal options available to them for selecting a specific software tool to use.  In some cases the administration sets an available budget for a teacher or teaching department, in which the teachers can choose how to spend it.  Whether the teacher has a budget or not, there are still limitless resources available on the Internet that won’t cost anything but time.  Because of the many options, any teacher is faced with a buffet type dilemma when choosing a particular software to integrate in the classroom.

The buffet of resources is not anything new to education.  For years, teachers have received catalogs throughout the year promoting resource materials.  In addition. the teaching fairs and conferences are flooded with vendors, trying to show of their latest and greatest products.  At least at the fairs teachers had to opportunity to touch and view the resources, but the challenge of previewing software for possible integration is more in depth.  First, you must become aware of the software, then you must become familiar with it.  If it costs money, you have to see if your budget is enough.  If you choose a particular software, you have to consider if there is enough reliable infrastructure to use it; next you must spend time adapting your teaching strategy to it.  As a software is integrated, you must consider the learning curve of the students, and lastly you must measure the overall effectiveness of using the software.  So, metaphorically speaking, don’t go hungry to the buffet, better yet, ask for the guided tour of the buffet so that you can anticipate and plan your meal.

Teaching professionals need to stay abreast of trends related to teaching (Kopyc, S. 2006).  One of the strongest trends right now involves the integration of technology tools and applications.  Therefore, teachers must adapt to this trend.  To carefully measure the need and the justification for integrating any software, the whole process must start with the relative advantage  (Robleyer and Doering, 2012).  Whether it be the traditional classroom setting or a virtual classroom, teachers must know what the students need and consider what best suits the teaching strategy.  Here is an article, that helps guide teachers and parents to making the right selection for software.  Also, many teaching professional have joined networks, like Diigo in Education, where ideas for technology integration are shared.

Reference

Kopyc, S. (2006). Enhancing Teaching with Technology: Are We There Yet? Innovate, 3(2). Retrieved from http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=74
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2012). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th ed.). Allyn & Bacon.
Advertisements