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EdTech – Work Smarter Not Harder

If we teach today’s students as we did yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow” – John Dewey

In 1986 Shulman stated that a good teacher needed to not only have good content knowledge and an in depth understanding of pedagogy but a combination of the two: what he termed content pedagogical knowledge –  knowing, and using, the best way to teach what you know.  Mishra & Koehler (2006) build on this with the TPACK Model:



Mishra & Koehler’s TPACK model (Adapted from

The yellow star in the middle represents the position that teachers should be striving for – to be able to use technology in a relevant way that will impact on learning.

There is a rule of thumb that I was told when I first started teaching: “a resource should not take less time to complete than it took to make”.  There  are obviously some exceptions – when you expect to reuse a resource, for instance, but the point remains the same: given how little PPA time we get, is this really the best way to spend your time?  I remember in my NQT year spending hours on a resource for heating and cooling where the particles vibrated and moved apart for an observed lesson.  It looked good (at least I thought so) and provided a concrete representation of a fairly abstract concept but it would have been better to do a role play.  In fact, it would have been better as the idea that particles colliding created a force that pushed them apart would have been more obvious. But I was determined to wow the person observing me with my technological skills.  It didn’t work out as well as I hoped.  On the plus side I did get a much better understanding of what could be done with PowerPoint.  Those skills I learned came in far handier than that resource did.

If you don’t already know how to use a piece of technology you will need to spend the time to understand it, and the best way to do this is to use it yourself.   You need to be able to know what that technology can do before you can imagine all the ways it could be used.  However, once this is done the use of it should be simple.

Using technology in your lesson is not about creating an all singing, all dancing festival of colours and sounds, it is about finding a better way of helping students to understand the content, build on skills and make progress.  I think that this is where a lot of teachers have got lost – by dazzling their students or by avoiding using technology as they don’t have the time to create the described extravaganza.

Simple changes can have a massive impact – instead of reading out snippets of student work, take a photo of it and put it up on an interactive white board.  Have your class identify the good bits and area for improvement.  The setting up of this will take a couple of minutes and can be done while you are talking to the class – but the resulting evaluative discussion will be worth it.  Something that would be harder to obtain by simply reading out the work.

Properly integrating technology will not make you work harder, it will make you work smarter.

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