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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Motivation

Although using technology as a tool to motivate in the educational environment has been widely practiced for many years now, educators sometimes fail to understand that "replacing the textbook" is not the best use of technology tools. While the Internet provides quick reference to endless amounts of information, the vetting process (or lack there of) is often overlooked. Essentially anyone can publish nearly anything on the web, regardless of the authenticity and reliability of the content. This includes our students. So how do we as educators make sure our students are reading reliable information, thinking critically and applying learning to solve problems or help them make sense of the world? If using technology to publish on the web doesn't motivate learners, what will?

Such ideological questions can not be answered with one blanket statement. Just as all adult learners are unique and motivated differently, our students are as well. We have to think less about the technology and more about the learners. Providing students access to technology tools when and if they need them is an essential part of technology integration. The lesson should NEVER be about the tool; well-developed and planned activities around expected learning outcomes and clear evidence that demonstrates learning should always be central in the classroom environment. Sometimes, our students will choose to use a tool to create a digital representation of their thought process, how their thinking has evolved, or even share discoveries encountered along the way. All of these activities have common threads: students expressing themselves, communicating, interacting socially with others.

Teachers who have not made the pedagogical shift are missing out on the joys of getting the know students as unique and thoughtful individuals. Students are not going to remember all the knowledge and learning they receive in school -- in twenty-five years. But they will remember those moments, the laughter shared, the caring and encouraging adults, the relationships with peers they've built. If an educator wants to motivate a learner, she needs to provide choices and opportunities to interact, discuss and share learning with peers.

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