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How We Select Technology

Technology adoption is tricky. What technology should we use and for what purpose? Should we use something just because everyone else is using it? Should there be another reason? What is that reason? What is the technology that fits best in my classroom, with my students, and for what I want to do?

In the field of assistive technology, where IDEA talks about individualized educational programs, we use a great framework developed by Joy Zabala (http://joyzabala.com). It’s called SETT, and it stands for Student, Environment, Tasks, and Tools. It says that rather than starting with the tool (a way too frequent approach), we should first consider the student’s strengths, weaknesses, and needs; we should consider the environment that the student is operating in; and we should consider the tasks we want the student to accomplish. Once we’ve considered that, identifying the tool becomes much easier and more appropriate.

While it’s hard to consider the strengths, weaknesses, and abilities of every student in a school, there’s nothing stopping us from at least examining the environment (the WiFi, the classrooms, whether the device is going home with the student or not, etc.) and the tasks (what are the educational goals? What are we trying to accomplish in the classroom? What do we want the students to learn?). Once we do that, maybe we can do a better job of selecting the appropriate tools rather than having closets full of technology that once was hot and now it’s not.

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