In the 2020-21 school year, unanswered questions have filled the minds of educators, parents, and students. Will our schools “reopen” or remain at a distance? What strategies can be used to keep students interested and motivated remotely? What tech tools/platforms will help teachers and students learn in person when they are physically distanced and wearing masks? 

It can be tempting to seek answers for our questions by searching for a particular tech platform, app, or tool for to be used universally across a single school site or district. This can appear to be a way to maximize training time, streamline an approach to integration, and ensure all teachers are on the same page. 

The reality, however, is that not one situation is like another. We teach students, not robots who are clones of each other. And as EdTech coaches, we support teachers, each with individual strengths, challenges, and teaching styles. And so while it may seem counterintuitive, a grass-roots organic approach, rather than a top-down mandate, fosters greater sustainability and better learning for both educators and students. 

But what does an organic approach to EdTech look like?

As we write in our upcoming book The Complete EdTech Coach: An Organic Approach to Supporting Digital Learning, “When you plan with the 4 Cs in mind, the tech takes care of itself”.

When considering how to integrate EdTech for a particular lesson, begin by considering the learning goal, and then consider how students will engage in the 4 Cs (communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity) as they work toward the academic based learning goal. The academic content you teach is the “what”, EdTech is the “how”. When we focus on the 4 Cs as the “how”, technology infused ideas emerge naturally! 

Instead of focusing first on a tech tool, consider questions as to engagement in the 4 Cs. Ask yourself, colleagues, or educators you serve, “How might students communicate and collaborate about the content during this lesson?” “How might I encourage student critical thinking and creativity?” The answers to these questions are often (but not always) tech infused! 

When we approach EdTech integration with a lens of “how” to engage in the 4 Cs, as opposed to “what” tool to use, we honor educators’ autonomy. We spark conversations that lead to collaboration and ownership of the work. The questions are open-ended, not one-sided. They foster divergent thinking. And the result is organic EdTech integration – personalized, context based, and pedagogically sound.

Join us at our EdTech Coaching session to explore an organic approach to supporting educators. We look forward to connecting with you!

Join Adam and Katherine on Wednesday, March 24th at 7:00pm PST for their session “Organic EdTech Coaching: Support Digital Learning.” Register for Virtual Spring CUE today at cue.org/spring!

Adam Juarez is a 6-12 EdTech Integration Coach and History Teacher for Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District. He is a Google Certified Trainer and Innovator. Katherine Goyette is an EdTech Consultant for Tulare COE. She designs and implements professional learning sessions and conducts in-class coaching. Katherine is a Google Certified Trainer & Innovator, Newsela Certified Educator, Apple Teacher, and Microsoft Innovative Educator. Formerly, Katherine was an administrator, coach, and classroom teacher.

Kristin Oropeza

About Kristin Oropeza
Kristin is a full-time special education teacher, contract consultant, and educational content writer. She is a Google Certified Teacher (Level 1 and 2), Google Certified Trainer, and MIE Expert for 2020-2021.