Marc Prensky assimilates teaching, learning, and technology into a brilliant how-to for 21st-century teachers and students.

Ways to Use Technology Powerfully

Prensky believes teachers should always be striving to use technology POWERFULLY in their classrooms (rather than just “trivially.”)

He notes that technology can be used in classrooms in two distinct ways:

1. Technology can be used to do “old things in new ways.” Prensky refers to these kinds of technology use as “trivial,” in that they add little that is new educationally. “Trivial” (in this sense) uses of technology include: keyboarding (on the computer or in blogs), reading on tablets and kindles, displaying distributions through word clouds, etc.  Note that these uses are OK as a way to move students to more modern tools, but only if we stop using the older tools and methods—having students use both wastes valuable time.

2. Technology can be used “powerfully,” i.e. to do new things students have never been able to do before. Examples include using technology to:

Connect with people around the world (e.g. using Twitter and Skype)
Do complex analyses (e.g. using Wolfram Alpha)
Create new software (e.g. making Apps)
Create new physical products (e.g. using CAD and 3D printing)
Simulate machines and populations (e.g. using computer-based simulation tools)
Meet in Virtual Worlds (e.g. using Second Life)
Build and program robots (e.g. using Lego Mindstorms)

Unfortunately today, most classroom use of technology is both trivial and accompanied by the old, non-technological ways.  The wisest teachers though, are focusing on the powerful uses. These are far more meaningful ways to use technology in education and classrooms.

See also:
Practical Suggestions
Partnering Tips
High-Leverage Activities