When it comes to STEM in the classroom, technology is best used as an aid in critical and creative thinking, allowing students to have access to an additional modality from which to deepen their understandings. It should not be expected, however, that students arrive with a complete knowledge of how to use the technology, and be expected to use it every chance they can get. A good use of technology would first include guidance as to what to use, how to use it, and why a student should consider applying it to a particular activity, over a non-technology alternative.
As a creative avenue, technology should support exploration of concepts so they may gain new understanding through a relevant, personal experience. In a science experiment, for example, they can manipulate variables and see the effects without the need of extensive materials and preparation. Therefore, particular apps or simulations may allow for students to make intangible concepts tangible.
Something equally important to consider, however, when applying technology in STEM, is the student’s ability to recognize that an activity could benefit from the use of technology over non-technology practices. The teacher should help the student to think critically towards the purpose of the use of technology in the classroom. The use of a device for research or simulations are wonderful, but students should not become reliant. Good use of technology should provide them with an opportunity to challenge themselves further, removing barriers that would otherwise hinder their learning efforts.
I like the fact that you have raised the importance of teaching students how to use technology well. Too often students are just so excited to use technology that no thought is given to is this the right tool for the job? As our students become global citizens teaching them to be critical consumers of information that comes from technology and appropriate use of these tools will become life skills. I really appreciate how you have illustrated how we can use the decision process to build students critical thinking, an essential skill in preparing our students for their integrated futures.