Appropriate Technology

There are many factors to consider when determining whether or not technology is appropriate (see also Developmentally Appropriate Technology). Consider the cluster diagrams below. When we are speaking about technology, we might be speaking about tools such as, white boards, document cameras, computers and their accompanying hardware and software, and the Internet with its myriad options, among many others. How does an educator determine when it is appropriate to use a technological tool in presenting a lesson or achieving a lesson's objective?

Educators must constantly strive to balance engagement, self-directed learning, and structured learning. When considering a technological tool for a lesson, teachers might want to ask themselves questions including:

  • What is the level of skill my learners have with navigating this tool?
  • How much time will it take to train the students on how to successfully use this tool for the purposes of this assignment?
  • What will the usage of this tool add to the experience of the lesson?
  • What other added value might this tool provide (for example: adding a visual, hands-on element)?
  • To what degree will I need to monitor the students to keep them on task if I use this tool, and can I successfully do so with my current resources and class sizes?
  • Does any added value compensate for the time involved to train and monitor?
  • What are the additional financial costs involved with using this tool?
  • Will I be able to use this tool again (sustainability/maintenance issues)?
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Teachers may decide that integrating technology into their lesson has a low relative advantage, and is, therefore, not worth the extra time and effort it will take to employ and facilitate its effective use (Roblyer and Doering, 2010, p. 55). Whether or not they choose to use technological tools, they need to realize the impact of their choices and attitudes on their students.