Making Good Choices About School Technology

by Rose Hamilton



Principal Eric Sheninger gets around. When he’s not at New Milford (N.J.) High School, he might be at an educational conference or on Twitter (@NMHS_Principal) speaking about the value of technology and social media in schools. A winner of the 2012 Digital Principal Award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals, Sheninger says what’s most important about classroom technology is how it’s used to help students learn. He sees PTOs and PTAs as having a key role as partners with teachers in making sensible technology choices. We asked him some questions about top technology trends recently and here's what Sheninger shared:

How can PTOs gain an under-standing of how a technology purchase would benefit students?
When teachers ask the parent group to make a technology purchase, teachers should be able to demonstrate how they will use it effectively. They can do a demonstration lesson and put the parents in the role of students.

Is technology always a wise investment?No. If the student just carries it around and uses it to watch videos and read text, it’s not useful. It’s just an electronic textbook. If students are developing skills such as problem-solving, it is a wise investment. Students should be using the technology to create. They should be diagramming, drawing, and assessing.

What technology pitfalls can parent groups avoid?
Don’t get caught up in the bells and whistles, and don’t overbuy. It isn’t such a big deal whether it’s an iPad for every student or a rolling laptop computer lab or a Smart Board. It’s about how the technology is used. At our school, we don’t need a Smart Board in every classroom. Instead, I have an iPad, an Apple TV, and an LCD projector. This becomes a mobile interactive whiteboard. I keep it in my office, and teachers sign it out for the day.


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