Editor’s Picks 2015, No. 1: Three things great teachers do with technology

3 inspiring examples of how great teachers turn technology into relevance and make learning count

Ed. note: This year the editors selected ten stories we believe either highlighted an important issue in 2015 and/or signaled the beginning of an escalating trend or issue for 2016. Our No. one editor’s pick for 2015 is Tom Daccord’s visionary look at how great teachers, not technology, are the true transformation agents in the 21st century classroom. The piece nearly made our separate list of most popular stories. In a way, I’m glad it didn’t so we can shine new light on Daccord’s timeless suggestions for engaging, empowering, and connecting with learners through the power of technology.


Too often, we see teachers putting the proverbial cart before the horse. They find an app or tool they like, so they introduce it in their classroom. The students might find it cool and engaging—but if the teacher hasn’t defined why they’re using that tool, its integration has no clear, educational purpose.

If, instead, you begin with a learning goal in mind and choose apps and devise activities in support of it, then you’re on a path to meaningful technology integration.

To help educators develop a vision for using technology in their classrooms, here are a few examples of what great teachers do with these tools.

1. They empower students through creativity

Shawn McCusker has been teaching high school social studies for nearly two decades. For years, he would have his students demonstrate their understanding of the great industrial philosophers by writing a comparative essay.

Two years ago, Shawn was involved in an iPad pilot program, and he gave his students a choice in how they would demonstrate their knowledge: Students could write an essay, or they could tap the creative potential that existed in their iPads.

(Next page: How YouTube helped a shy student thriveand score a hit video)

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