Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Value of Educational Technology

I recently had a colleague ask me "why should I learn this tech stuff. How will it help me or my students?" I answered that it could make him more efficient and organized, able to learn new things, and allow his students to do new things, explore, engage, create, and have fun learning. We talked for a few more minutes and I convinced him to come to a professional development session I was running entitled "An Introduction to Educational Technology" where I introduce some basic edtech tools and resources and show the participants how to get started using educational technology. Many teachers are intimidated by everything out there, so I also point them towards resources that can help them overcome their fears and learn to use the resources.

The conversation got me thinking more about the value of educational technology. I have always believed in edtech as a valuable educational tool and resource, but I wanted to try to verbalize my beliefs better and come up with concrete examples. So, here goes.

Value of Educational Technology: (or, how does it help teachers and students)
  1. Organization - things like Google Calendar, iGoogle, Evernote help keep us organized and more efficient
  2. Collaboration - Google Docs, Twitter, Prezi, Blogs, Wiki's, Scriblar, and more allow teachers and students to interact, work together, and work with others.
  3. Web 2.0 - in general, allows students and teachers to create and interact instead of just observing
  4. Personal Learning Network (PLN) - learning and sharing what you know
  5. Professional development - online resources, informal through PLN, online classes
  6. Research/Information - the internet ('nuff said)
  7. Virtual labs, trips - take your students to places they'd never get to see otherwise, do labs and experiences with them, even when you don't have the supplies or equipment.
  8. Save time and money
  9. Provide new learning experiences and help improve education
  10. Connect with students and parents easier - email, websites, blogs, etc.
  11. Provide differentiated educational experiences (video, audio, print, interactive, help and tutoring)
I was trying to figure out how much money I have saved in my classroom alone by utilizing educational technology in place of other things.
  • My physics classes do not have a textbook because I use two free online physics texts, three great websites, and a free downloadable pdf version of a physics textbook. Savings of $140 per student. (the textbook we have is very old and out of date)
  • I don't print out anywhere near the amount of paper for students that I used to because I post things on the class blogs and website. Savings of literally tens of thousands of pieces of paper and copier toner and my time.
  • Electronic grade book, attendance, note taking, etc. has saved money on grade books and paper (and allowed parents to keep track of their child's performance)
  • Free online virtual labs and simulations instead of paying for licenses or lab equipment
  • Free software / services (Google Docs, Sites, Blogger, Evernote, etc) instead of paying for licenses - students can therefore do things at home that they normally couldn't afford to do either.
I could not put a numeric value on educational technology. I know I save money, I know I save time, I know I offer my students labs and experiences that I couldn't otherwise (due to budget issues), I know the students have fun, I know that they are creating instead of just consuming, I know I am more efficient and more organized, I know I learn a lot from my PLN, I know my students learn a lot from the class and their work. How do you put a price on that? I think it is priceless.

What do you think the value of educational technology is?

Can we quantify it with numbers and data?


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