How to choose the right education technology

According to Englert, there are a set of education skills she calls Pack Skills that she uses as a guide for her school. The mentality, explains Englert, is “I CAN:”

  • Think critically
  • Create
  • Collaborate with others
  • Find and use information with precision to solve problems
  • Fulfill needs and pursue interests
  • Choose flexibility
  • Adapt

The first school education project that featured Englert’s Pack Skills was for a science project called “It’s Elemental.” Students in the Principles of Chemistry class worked on video productions to enter into the “It’s Elemental” competition sponsored by the Chemical Heritage Foundation.

Students decided if they wanted to enter the education competition as part of a group or as an individual entry, and over the next two weeks, brainstormed ideas; researched their selected element; wrote scripts; developed storyboards; and considered props, music, and more to create videos entered into the competition.

One student even ranked in the top five nationally.

“It’s not just about creating videos or using cool video software because students like it, it’s about combining both: easy-to-use education technology that students find engaging but that can also serve a purpose. In this example, it was for demonstrating science knowledge for a national competition that would also give recognition to the school,” said Englert.

From theory to practice

Another critical component of education technology integration is considering the scope of the curriculum and taking into account the standards that need to be covered.

An example of this in Englert’s school was through a world history project, based on students transitioning from world cultures to modern world history.

“We knew we not only wanted students to reveal their depth of knowledge, but also demonstrate parts of the new Common Core Standards, like writing and understanding digital mediums,” she explained.

Englert chose a tool called Glogster, which allows students and educators to create GLOGS, or online multimedia posters with text, photos, videos, graphics, sounds, drawings, data attachments, and more. Englert heard of Glogster through an education technology listserv.

Englert noted that another consideration when choosing an education technology tool is how the tool can best be utilized to maximize students’ learning potential. For example, for this history project, Englert suggested the teacher base the project off of a question.

“Instead of saying ‘Build an interactive poster about an event in history that interests you,’ the teacher and I decided to develop a series of questions based on the curriculum that the students would then have to answer using multimedia as tools for expression,” she said.

For example, a question could be “Did iconography play a part in World War II?” Students could then also ask more questions as part of their GLOG project, using videos, images, article excerpts, and more to complete the project.

(Next page: There’s a process you should follow)

Meris Stansbury

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