1. Do students have the appropriate skills to utilise this tool? Often, the apps are easy to use but require a hidden set of literacy skills that children may not have yet. If the answer was no, file it away until they do or build towards it
2. Will this technological tool upskill the students? If they are not learning new skills, building on a previous one or stepping up to the next level, what value does the tool hold? Technology, I believe, should offer some challenge or require some level of thinking. Unfortunately, some apps and tools require students to perform low level skills.
3. Is it to immerse students in new content, consolidate a skill or revise skills and knowledge? This is an important question as it brings you back to have a focus. At the heart of good teaching is knowing the focus. Why are the kids doing this and how will they get there? It is fine to use technology to revise or consolidate skills or knowledge. Just be clear on why the children are using it.
4. Does it match the focus? In this case, near enough is not good enough. Too many times, I have heard or read educators sharing apps. They look great but often do not match the original focus. What is the point of using it if it doesn’t steer kids in the right direction?
5. Have the kids done this numerous times before? Remember the children currently in schools are familiar and often confident users of technology. We may get excited as non digital natives but this generation have been exposed to technology frequently and repeatedly. They go home and play with apps of their choice. If they have done it seventy times before, then will seventy one make a difference?
6. Will it require an acceptable level of thinking? Will this just be a case of knowledge that they already know being regurgitated in a different way?
Educators must be selective with the technology that they expose students to, especially in our current world and environment. Not only do we run the risk of “dumbing” things down but we run the risk of stopping our kids from thinking.