Adaptive, Misuse, Support

Interviewee J has been a teacher for close to 20 years in a mixture of Science and Math classes from the junior to senior levels. Interviewee D has been a teacher for 5 years, and has experience mostly in Physics and Mathematics at the senior level.

The interview was conducted over email, which allowed for asynchronous response and made the information easier to process by the interviewer.


The first of the three themes that I noticed with the two interviewees is their experience, or desire to use technology to adapt to different student needs in order to improve engagement and learning. J mentions using technology to show videos, run lab simulations, and the use of various quizzing websites such as Kahoot & Socrative. These different pieces of technology serve to create differentiated instruction to students. Using videos to demonstrate concepts allow students who are visually based learners to the optimal opportunity to learn, while quizzing websites allow for different forms of assessment that deviates from the traditional pencil and paper method.

D has experience with similar technology but discussed the need for more adaptive learning technology that can cater more to student needs.


Both interviewees discuss the lack of discipline on the students end when it came to doing productive work on devices. Both interviewees mentioned the need to police students to ensure that they are on task while given opportunity to work. D mentions the need for the school to create policies to control bandwidth or block undesired web traffic to prevent inappropriate use of technology.


Both teachers thought that the best way that a school or institute could provide support for teachers is to increase the number of professional development opportunities and to increase the monetary investment to class sets of equipment. Both interviewees also mentioned that the improving the resources and technology available to teachers will improve the teacher’s effectiveness to use technology in their pedagogy.


  1. Hi Gary,

    I agree with your comments about misuse and I find it is driven by student engagement in the activity. With senior students, motivating them two weeks before the end of classes is an arduous task. For both of my senior business classes (marketing and entrepreneurship), my final course assessment is taking the form of a project. In my entrepreneurship class, I find there are some students who have not completely bought in which requires more policing on my part. The complete opposite is true in my marketing class where students are participating in a business simulation where each of their decisions impact the industry and thus the rest of the class. They are simply glued to the computer screen and have no issues with students being on task.

    It is challenging because I think both projects are well designed, but student buy in is tough sometimes.


    1. I can definitely feel my seniors slipping away as well! Hard to motivate them when a lot of them know where they are going to university already and have gotten acceptance somewhere.

      I have similar experiences with project work as well. As long as the project interests them and there is a goal that is larger than themselves (like how every student plays a part in the simulation), the engagement level is really good. I am looking forward to developing more projects that are community based because of this.

  2. Hi Gary,
    Your theme of support resonated with me in your interview. Like many other interviewees, the theme of more professional development opportunities emerged. I have a great example about this same very topic this that happened at our school today. During our union meeting at school, we were talking about pro-d days for next year. Now, we voted on either having self-directed days, school wide days or a mixture of both. One teacher brought up the fact that we have teacher autonomy and should not be forced to attend a pro-d day if we do not want to. In the end, we voted for self-directed pro-d days. My only concern here, is that if we want to include more support with technology at our schools and leave it up to the teachers, I’m afraid the ones that aren’t willing or interested in doing so will choose another pro d opportunity and defeats the purpose.
    Should we have mandatory school wide pro-d? Should we leave it up to the teacher to attend what he/she wants to learn? What if technology doesn’t interest them? I wonder about this questions.

    1. My colleagues and I suffer from the same problem. I think the best pro-d is completed in small groups where teachers can bounce ideas off each other and build ideas for projects or initiatives that can be carried out across the grade (for example, running a project for all Math 9s that might involve some technology). A lot of times, self directed pro-d turns into a marking session on pro-d day, and I don’t think that’s the way to go.

      A lot of it I think depends on leadership within a school department, or within the school. Someone needs to lead the charge, and develop, or find people that are willing to share, and spread new ideas. A person, or small group, needs to go and get experience working with different technology and ways to utilize it, and bring it back to the school to share the experience.

      In terms of resistance against technology, I am sure you have encountered colleagues that are more resistant to utilizing technology than others, but I really think those types of teachers are a dying breed. There may always be teachers that are more traditional, but new teachers that are coming in are usually more open minded and have grew up with technology themselves and would more likely incorporate it into their pedagogy. When there is enough of a technology movement, those who resist should be more motivated to give it a try, it may take years, but I think that change is inevitable.

  3. Dealing with limited resources tricky. BYOD seems to be an easy solution if you have policies in place that allow for it. I don’t currently have a BYOD policy in my classroom but am interested in exploring the pros and cons.

    I can relate to the need for more professional development. Personally, I would like to see a long-term professional development model related to technology. One that takes into consideration each teacher’s professional learning journey. I’m curious what a model that supports lifelong learning related to technology and education looks like and what school boards use them.

    1. I think in the long run, BYOD is the only sustainable option for a school or school district. With the rate at which technology is improving, schools cannot keep up with the latest and greatest. I work at a school that is fortunate enough to allow BYOD, and kids who don’t bring their devices and need to use the school laptops hate them. The school computers are slow, and outdated. Kids bring in their own Macbooks and have a much better time.

      There are many pros and cons. This could lead to another very deep discussion but here are my top 3 pros and cons:

      1. Very easy to run projects or assignments that utilize certain apps, websites, or online tools.
      2. No “red tape” around technology use. No need to book your class into a lab. No need to book a device cart. Very minimal set up time before kids are working. No need to track if all devices are returned. Kids manage their own device, and do their own troubleshooting (mostly) around their own device.
      3. Higher levels of engagement compared to seat work, when students are presented with a task that interests them.

      1. The need to police students to ensure they stay on task.
      2. Need for the teacher to be able to troubleshoot and deal with issues students may encounter on their device (“I can’t get to this website, what can I do?” “How do I take screenshots on my computer”)
      3. Backup plans required if technology fails. Some students may have trouble accessing things you want them to access, and you need to be able to deal with them if they can’t get on it.

  4. Hi Gary,

    Being adaptive seems to be a common theme going around as it should be, as it’s quite visibly important. Like others, I agree that misuse is probably the next important issue to tackle. As more schools are moving towards electronically friendly education, misuse of electronics in schools have become a problem that’s hard to resolve. Some of the schools I work with still promotes more traditional styles of teaching and less handheld device uses in classrooms, while of the other school promotes the opposite. But regardless of which system the school has in place, misuse seems to be a problem. For school’s that don’t allow electronics in classrooms like phones as they are visual distractions, the students often get in trouble for using their phones as in the students’ minds having a phone is a norm, so the school always compromise electronic uses. On the other hand, in schools where they are promoting electronic education, I have teachers complaining to me about how the students use it too much and so have trouble telling them to stop as it would contradict their new directives to move towards electronic education.

    It seems like finding an equilibrium is hard and still a work in progress. Does anyone have a method of monitoring electronic device usage in classrooms that is working for them?

    1. In my interview with D, he mentions a need to police web usage by students by banning certain web traffic from the school networks. In the past, my school has experimented with blocking traffic from Snapchat, and Instagram, which I think ultimately is the best way to control student behavior regarding misuse, while at the same time, reducing bandwidth demand and clearing up the school network for web traffic that really matters.

      Unfortunately, our school stopped doing that, because I believe it may be against the law to ban these types of web traffic on school grounds? I forgot the exact reasoning but I think it is unfortunate that we weren’t able to take these steps to control the school’s wifi network.

      Even then, banning traffic from apps like these have their own negative consequences. I have seen several lesson plan or project ideas that involve social media apps like Facebook and Instagram that are fabulous and are excellent examples of how to incorporate technology into pedagogy while also giving teachers an opportunity to show students proper online etiquette and behavior. If you ban traffic from these apps, the school is also potentially preventing teachers the opportunity to teach students digital citizenship and blocking teachers from using these apps in a positive way. As you said, there probably isn’t a best solution for everything, and the debate continues.

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