6. Know how the technology works with the teacher and activities
According to Simon, there should be a balance in the technology incorporated into the day. For example, does the technology cater to a large group, small group or individual? Is the activity teacher-directed or child-initiated? Also, are the activities open-ended or skill-based; and does the activity last for short periods of time, or does it allow for deeper exploration?
7. How much time is appropriate?
According to Simon, it’s important to know how much time kids should spend on a certain device or working on a fairly simple activity, which is why she consults this rubric:
8. How does the physical classroom space support the technology?
“Many times the classroom is not supporting the technology, simply because the technology can’t be used spontaneously anytime, anywhere,” said Simon. “For example, can students easily reach the interactive whiteboard to show a concept? Can they access a computer easily to look up a fact?”
Simon suggests using technology like QR codes to make the classroom as interactive as possible, as well as multiple devices spread around the room to allow for recordings:
9. Are teachers supported?
Both Simon and Nemeth say that it’s important that teachers have time to both informally “play” with the technology to learn how to better integrate it into the classroom, as well as participate in formal professional development.
10. Can you integrate the technology during special events?
“One of the best ways to use technology is to enhance a learning experience, and what better way to do that than during field trips, speaker visits and outdoor activities?” emphasized Simon.
Nemeth and Simon both also recommended using rubrics to better help educators choose technology:
How to make the best education technology decisions
Digital literacy basic skills self-assessment