4 questions to help you identify “tech-able” moments

Here are a few ideas for leading an ed-tech discussion or reflecting on your own practice.
Monica Burns
Monica Burnshttps://classtechtips.com/
Monica Burns is an ed-tech and curriculum consultant, author of "EdTech Essentials" (ASCD, 2021) and former New York City public school teacher. She works with schools and organizations around the world to support preK-20 educators with technology integration. Monica’s website ClassTechTips.com and Easy EdTech Podcast helps educators place “tasks before apps” by promoting deeper learning with technology.

What does it look like to thoughtfully, and strategically, bring digital tools into your classroom? As a classroom teacher, I tackled this question, and as a professional development facilitator, it’s front of mind during my discussion with educators. Whether you’re considering this big question on your own or coaching a group of colleagues, I have a few helpful questions for promoting discussion around this topic.

In this excerpt from EdTech Essentials: The Top 10 Technology Strategies for All Learning Environments, I share four questions to help you identify tech-able moments. I’ll unpack this spin on a popular term and hopefully give you a few ideas for leading a discussion or reflecting on your own practice.

Identifying “Tech-able” Moments

Here’s a selection from chapter 10 of EdTech Essentials:

“As a professional development facilitator, I often work with teams and individual teachers to review their goals for future instruction. We might unpack a unit together to determine the core goals of an upcoming unit, or we might look at an individual lesson and its components. Many teachers are familiar with the phrase teachable moment, which has come up a few times in this book.

A teachable moment describes an unplanned moment in a lesson or an activity when there is an opportunity to pause, or take a quick detour, to address an unexpected need instead of ignoring it or addressing it later.

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A “tech-able moment” is a spin on this idea and a way I describe how we can look at a lesson, an activity, or a unit of study and identify moments when technology would enhance the learning experiences for students. This enhancement could come in a few different areas, and these questions can help guide you in your decision-making:

  1. Can I use an explainer video, a podcast interview with an expert, a virtual reality experience or another digital resource to build background knowledge?
  2. Will specific features of digital tools—such as voice-to-text, audio recordings or video responses—make it easier for students to share their learning?
  3. Can I use tech-friendly strategies such as polling, annotations, and quick response to questions to check for understanding more efficiently?
  4. Is there a way—a virtual field trip, for instance, or online sharing with a partner class—to extend this lesson in a way that was not possible in the past?

Watching ed-tech innovators: What new skills are they helping students develop?

The common theme for these tech-able moments is how they require us to examine the ways technology can address common goals and obstacles, including how to differentiate for students, provide more ways for them to access content, boost participation and engagement, facilitate formative assessment, and extend learning experiences. These areas encompass all of the essentials we have looked at in this book.

Using digital tools with intention

As you dive into the questions listed above, I encourage you to choose one for your next discussion with colleagues. Although it’s useful to have all four in your back pocket for coaching and reflection conversations, choosing one for your next group conversation can help everyone stay focused.

Do you have another question to add to this list? What discussion questions have helped you and your colleagues identify “tech-able” moments? Share them on social media with the hashtag #EdTechEssentials and tag @ClassTechTips.

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