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Good Educational Technology: What Does That Mean?

by Anne-Evan Williams, LGL Director of Educational Development

Hardware, software, professional development.  All make up what we refer to as educational technology.  But is one component more important than another?  Is one more often ignored?  What does it mean for schools to have "good educational technology"?

In a recent blog entry on "Ed Tech Journeys," Pete Reilly asserts that the red-headed step-children of educational technology are software and professional development.  In an area of education where money is already too tight, Reilly insists that it is also being misappropriated, spent too widely on hardware.  "How many of us would drop $30,000 to $50,000 on a new switch to move data at faster speeds, but balk at spending the same amount on a piece of instructional software, or putting the money towards professional development?" he asks.

And he is absolutely correct, particularly about the professional development.  Whether a district is implementing new software or new hardware, it is completely useless if teachers haven't been properly educated themselves.  Sometimes it is as simple as training the teachers in how to use new equipment or software.  But other times it is a matter of educational theory behind the new product, or giving teachers the opportunity to collaborate on ways to effectively use the technology as a teaching tool.  Any time that new educational technology is brought into a school, there must be accompanying professional development to ensure that teachers will both use the tools correctly, and use them productively and efficiently as part of their classroom instruction.  Having good educational technology doesn't just mean that the most up-to-date hardware and software are installed in our schools.  Having good educational technology also means having teachers who are eager and prepared to use it!

Tags: educational technology, professional development, educational software

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