Skip to Content

Hello There New Technology! Wanna Go Out?

So many attractive technologies and so little time and money. Don’t let the choices overwhelm you.

Found in: Advice & Support

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with all the new education tech and trends going on in the world:

Genius Hour
Common Core
Mobile Learning
Design Thinking
Google Classroom
Brain Based Learning
Project Based Learning
Learning Management Systems
Transformative Brain Based Learning Spaces

Sheesh…I could go on! It’s exhausting! Then there’s all the new technology that you have to get, use, and master! Once it was Smart Boards, now it’s tablets and 3D printers. What if you don’t have an unlimited budget or a super generous Parent Teacher Association? OK, now you have to get funding from a place like DonorsChoose. (Which is totally doable! But does take a wee bit of effort.) And then what if you run out of money to buy the supplies? OMGosh, again. It’s exhausting!

Take a Deep Breath!

I’m here to tell you: It’s OK. You don’t have to be the expert at everything. You don’t have to totally flip your classroom and make videos to replace daily instruction. You can start by sourcing some great videos already created and adding them to your lesson plan. From places like YouTube, SchoolTube, and Flocabulary you can add a rich video mash-up without hours of video editing.

I call it the partial flip — and it means providing augmented information for tutorial or reinforcement, which sparks student engagement. (For an example of how to use curated, not newly created content, check out my LessonPath about Greek mythology, “Big Rich Mt. Olympus”)

Baby Steps Toward Change

Instead of discarding all of your furniture to create a brain-based and friendly learning classroom, why not just buy a few bean bag chairs for $39.99 on Amazon to create a comfy reading nook or discussion circle?

Instead of building a whole Lego wall or an expensive MakerSpace center with equipment that costs thousands of dollars, why not start small and create a MakerSpace cart that you can roll around the school with bins of Legos, patterned duck tape rolls for crafting, and a couple Makey Makey kits?

Instead of stressing about not having tablets to utilize mobile media in the classroom, use your own iPad or smart phone and film Vine stop-motion animation book trailers, science experiments, art talks, or social studies history snippets!

It’s okay to start small and grow!

Spark the engagement of Twitter and the ease of Google forms by having students write a #StoryIn140, do Twitter-style book reviews or QR Code Scavenger Hunts! Use QR Codes around the school with Loo Reviews & Pocket videos or 10 Things to do with QR Codes at Back to School Night!
It’s not the tool; it’s how you use it!

That New Technology Date? It Doesn’t Have to Lead to Marriage!

That’s right, the coolest ed tech trends you’ve heard about at conferences, on Twitter, or during a webinar, you know — the ones that may have also been leaving you awake at night feeling stressed out or inadequate for not jumping in with both feet?

They don’t have to all be done at once. You don’t have to overhaul your life, you just need to adapt. You can “pilot” and “beta test” new technologies and new teaching ideas on a small scale. Then, when you find one you like — you can go steady. Date a while. See how it goes.

You’ll know when you’re ready to commit!

It’s also not necessary to get each and every new tech tool that comes out. (Remember the Laser Disc?) Buy one for yourself, maybe, and get good at it. Bring it to school and try it with small groups. My school isn’t a 1:1 or total iPad school. Some of the coolest things I did with QR codes and mobile media in the early days (say, five years ago) was with two iPod Touch Generation 4s, my own smart phone, and my first iPad. It’s not about what you have. It’s about using what you have creatively. It’s the innovation of teaching and not the tool. Tools come and go, the daring spirit to try new things keeps moving on!

Gwyneth Jones is a teacher librarian at Murray Hill Middle School in Laurel, Md. She’s a Library Journal magazine mover and shaker, blogger (, Tweeter (@GwynethJones), international speaker, and Google Certified Teacher.

Need More Resources?

Check out the Daring Librarian’s online lesson plans:

Social media stress!

Twitter, Flickr, Vine, YouTube, Blogger, Edublogs, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Snapchat.... There are a lot of social media outlets. Which ones should you join? Which ones should you just register for and which ones do you want to have active involvement in? I’d like all educators to model and create a positive Web presence so that they become more visible (and less vulnerable) in their schools and in the communities. But gee whiz, there are only so many hours in the day, right?

Twitter and are my preferred social media tools. I broke up with Facebook years ago, but I’m deeply committed to blogging. What’s your outlet of choice? In 2008, I created a couple graphics to illustrate that life…err, I mean social media, is less like a fancy table d’hôte menu and more like dim sum! You can try a small plate here and there. Like it? Get another! Not to your taste? Push it aside and move on.

It’s funny how the plates have changed over the years! Second Life and Nings are out, and Instagram and Vine are in! Today I am going steady — which means visiting at least once a week — with Twitter, WikiSpaces, and Flickr.

Just starting out? Stop at those three. But if you’re ready for more, consider adding these: Blogger and Edublog, for professional blogs;, for a curation tool; Vine, for instant cred with the kiddos; Instagram, SlideShare, YouTube, and Skype.