If you ask any technology integration specialist/coach about “test prep technology” programs, you are more than likely inclined to receive looks of disapproval over excitement. In a climate where schools dedicate entire labs or carts to the use of such programs, we absolutely despise them because they get in the way of what students need when it comes to digital learning.
Dear Teachers…With all of my heart, please stop thinking that the use of programs such as istation, Think Through Math, Accelerated Reader or (insert program name here) fulfills appropriate access to tools for learning.
With that said, those that live in the world of tech must stop the message that digital creativity is the only acceptable use of technology. Don’t get me wrong, I believe wholeheartedly in digital creativity but I also know that there are steps to getting there and foundational learning is still critical. Sometimes technology provides a means to learning and we must acknowledge that.
In school tech circles, we frown upon programs historically used to increase standards based knowledge typically applied during testing. (Honestly, we frown upon them because of the way in which teachers use them.) With that said, it is possible that when considering blended/personalized learning that there is some value to content based tech. The trick is that even if technology was utilized as a means for learning, that the learning doesn’t end when the program exits.
This is where creativity can take over.
If I am to be honest, I believe that kids learn best through other means involving the real world. They have to tinker and explore. However, in an age of digital everything…I can’t deny the fact that there exist some computer program or app that may address the basic needs of learning too.
I learned my alphabet and how to read while watching this timeless media program called Sesame Street. If technology can be used to support such learning, so be it.
Again…we have to have space to create. We must also admit that certain tools spark content based learning.
There has to be balance.
Not one or the other.
PS….If tinkering/making is an option, do that first. Always!