Yes you can integrate technology even if you don’t know everything!
You don’t have to know everything there is to know about an iPad, or any piece of technology, before you start integrating it into your curriculum. You are an expert in your discipline, or grade level. You know what the students need to learn, and integrating technology into your students’ learning doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers about iPads also!
When you set up your assignments, you clearly state your objectives to the students so they know what is expected of them. You do this so you can see evidence of their learning on the topic you’ve been studying. To help with engagement, you would like your students to produce evidence of their learning in the form of a video or presentation made on an iPad, or an audio recording, or a comic strip because you recognize that these types of devices help engage students in their learning, and motivate them to produce the evidence you need to see that their learning is complete.
But… you don’t know how to make a movie, or record a conversation, or make a comic strip with an iPad. You know enough to realize that a movie can be made in iMovie, and maybe you’ve dabbled a little bit with the app in professional development, but you just don’t feel confident enough in your skills to say you “know it all” and can teach the kids how to use it. Don’t let that stop you! We’re all familiar with that idea that the teacher knows the answer to everything because they’re an expert, and that if the student has a question then the teacher can provide an answer. But there’s another idea that will help you integrate technology even when you know you won’t have all the answers.
Help the students learn by responding to their questions with questions. When a student asks a question that you don’t know how to answer, you’re provided with an opportunity to teach the students how to be self sufficient. You can demonstrate the power of crowdsourcing a question. You see, someone in the room may know that answer, and if not, someone surely asked that question out there on the Web. So as a facilitator of learning, perhaps your response to their question could be something like this:
Student A: How do I trim some of this video clip out of my movie?
Teacher: That’s a great question. I wonder how you could find that answer? Let’s see if any of your classmates know that answer.
Teacher (to whole class): Class, Sammy has a great question. Let’s see if we can help. Sammy is wondering how to trim a part of the video out of the movie. I bet some of you also have this question. Does anyone have any suggestions?
The next part of the conversation is now benefitting the whole group. There might be a student in the room that knows the answer to this question. That would be an easy solution to this situation. And now they’re learning to see each other as experts with technology and they’re learning how to ask questions and seek assistance from their peers. They see you as a facilitator of the discussion, modeling how to ask questions and seek answers independently. Let’s see how this discussion continues:
Student B: How about re-recording that part of the video without the stuff we want to trim out?
Teacher: Hmm. Yes, that would work, but that would require a lot of effort and time, and since we’re using software to edit movies, there may be a better way to deal with this problem. Does anyone else have an idea?
What if no one else seems to know? This is likely the scariest thing that could happen, but you don’t have to be scared. This next step will reinforce independent learning and self-reliance. Everyone will learn from this next step, including the teacher!
Teacher: Well, it looks like this question may be something we’re going to have to investigate further! I’m glad this is happening now so we can practice what you’ll need to do if this happens to you at home and no one is around to collaborate. We’re going to need to turn to the Internet for some solutions. Let’s all open up Safari and search for an answer on the Web. Where could we go in Safari to look for an answer like this?
Students: Google! A search engine! Bing! Yahoo!
Teacher: Exactly! See, you all know what to do. What could we search for to help us find the answer?
Students: How to trim a video clip? How to edit a movie? How to use iMovie?
Teacher: Those are all great suggestions. I think we could improve the search if we combine some of those ideas. Any suggestions?
Student B: Let’s search for How to trim a movie clip in iMovie on an iPad.
Teacher: Does everyone see how that search could be more helpful? We’ve included some important information in our search. We’ve shared that we’re using an iPad, we’re using iMovie, and we want to trim a movie clip. Now, let’s give that a try. (Teacher also performs the search on their computer/iPad).
Now you have modeled independent learning by showing students how to find answers on their own, crowdsourcing their question to a search engine that will return information gathered by many people in the world who had the same question.
Using this technique to find the answers to the questions you don’t know how to answer helps the lesson continue to move forward toward your learning goals while providing excellent instruction to your students (and you!) in being self-reliant with technology. What did you need to know in order to have a successful and meaningful experience with your students? You needed to know how to search Google effectively. You needed to know how to motivate a group of students to share knowledge through a discussion. You didn’t have to know the answer. And do you see how, had you known the answer and chosen not to share it, you
have empowered the students to find answers on their own. In other words, by answering their questions with questions of your own, you helped them start to develop the skills they will need to be independent and lifelong learners. You guided them in their learning instead of being the easy answer. And even though you didn’t know that technology inside and out before you integrated it, your students were able to use it as a motivator for their learning, you learned about the technology while guiding their discovery (and your own), and the student creations on their iPads will bring them a stronger sense of engagement while producing products that meet the goals of your learning outcomes. Everyone wins because you took a chance even when you didn’t know it all.