What makes technology valuable to you? What makes technology valuable to education? What can you do to make it more valuable?

Technology is pervasive in the modern world. Our current students have always had access to technology tools. Whether it is a mobile phone, email, the internet, virtual reality, 3D printers ... it is almost too much.

We need to evaluate the technology we use and figure out what makes it valuable and what we can do to make it more valuable.

What makes the technology that you are using valuable to you? Are you using it for business, communication, entertainment, information or some other use? Which of these uses are the most valuable?

I am asking a lot of questions because there are many answers. Now what would make technology valuable in education?

Educators and parents both need to consider what will make a technology valuable for their students or children. Is the technology simply replacing a tool?

For example, is a report being typed instead of handwritten? In this case typing is replacing handwriting and there is value to this. It is much easier to make corrections and rearrange a report when typing in a word processing program instead of having to rewrite an entire page of a report.

Is there a way to use the tool in this example to do things that handwriting can't and enhance the value of the word processor? An enhancement might be adding a photograph to the report. With today's technology it is also possible to add an audio clip or a video to the report so that is "multimedia."

This definitely adds value to the product that the student or child is creating.

Another example from the classroom is a classroom discussion. The teacher can ask questions orally of the class. The outgoing students will respond. The quiet students will not respond nearly as often.

There are ways for the teacher to increase the class participation. They can ask the students to write down their answers before calling on students. They can also ask students to respond using a website/program where the teacher sees all of the student responses instantly (electronic poll). Now the teacher can tell if the class is understanding a topic/issue and can decide at that time if they should review it or move on because everyone understands it.

This is an enhancement because it is real time instead of checking the papers/quiz after class to see if everyone was ready to move on.

Electronic polling or surveying is just one enhancement. If the classroom discussion is enhanced with a blog, all of the students can respond and have their voices heard instead of just the outgoing students.

The real technology value-added use of technology comes when the technology is used to do something that could not be done without the technology. Some examples of this are:

• Accessibility to education: In schools across the country, there are students who would like to learn about a topic or a skill but the expertise is not available in their community. Technology can allow them to connect to a class online.

At PR-B, one of the online options is Infinity Online, which offers more than 60 different classes for credit. But not everything has to be learned for credit. Students are also able to access free courses through systems such as Coursera.

Students can find tutorials for just about anything online. Want to learn to play the guitar? Google it and find the tool to learn that works best for you.

• Accessibility tools: Voice - there are free tools and paid tools that will allow someone to use voice commands to type or control a device.

Vision - screens can be adjusted to enhanced or adjusted to meet the needs of the viewer.

Reading - there are tools that will read much of the content online.

Speaking - there are tools to speak what is typed by the user.

Many of these tools were available in one form or another in the past but they were expensive or difficult to use. Now they are much more available and user friendly.

• Creativity: Technology that enhances or allows a student/user to be creative is the most valuable. If you create something, you have learned and you have been given a tool that allows you to share.

Creativity can take different forms. It can be creating a visual graphic or taking and editing a photograph. Creativity can be writing a story. It can be creating a video that tells a story or answers a question. Creating a good video takes work. It requires planning. It requires the filming and editing.

Creating a computer program can be creative. Creating a 3D object that can be printed is creative. You can create a graphic and use it to create a piece of cloth at Spoonflower.com.

Using technology for entertainment can be valuable. Using it to access information is valuable. Using it to help you complete a task is valuable. If you use it to be more creative, it is even more valuable because you are putting effort into producing a product.

How are you using your technology and if you have children, how are they using it? How can you use it to be creative? If you have children, encourage them to use it in a way that is creative.

If you are looking for reviews and resources, you might want to check out Common Sense Media at https://www.commonsensemedia.org. They have sections for parents and educators.