Best Practices in Technology Selection

In my experience, technology is a high cost endeavour in most classrooms. It requires significant investments of time and/or money in order to realize promised gains. In seeking to implement technology in the class room it seems to me like it should meet at least one of the following tests:


  • It does something we cannot do any other way
  • It is significantly safer than the alternative
  • It is significantly more efficient than the alternative
  • It yields better understanding of a topic
  • It is a discipline specific technology/technique to which students require exposure.


An example of a good use of technology would be the use of to-scale, zoomable, digital models of the solar system used in Schneps (2014). These models pass the above tests for something we cannot effectively show another way (the immensity of solar scale), greater efficiency than non-scale/traditional models and analogies, and better understandings for students. Schneps (2014) did show significant improvements via the use of such models in correcting misconceptions related to the relative scale and distance of objects within the solar system.


Given the growing prevalence of digital devices within class and the fact that there seems to be nothing proprietary about this technology, it appears that it could be readily implemented in many school environments.


Schneps, M. H. (2014).  Conceptualizing astronomical scale: Virtual simulations on handheld tablet computers reverse misconceptions. Computers and education, 70: 269-280. Doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.09.001


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