To the Editor:
I have been a big proponent of using technology in schools for years, and the Commentary “Teacher Observation: Tech or No Tech?” (Oct. 31, 2012) by Kim Marshall really struck a chord in me. As Mr. Marshall shares in his timely essay, using laptops and tablets makes teacher observations a much more difficult task.
As schools move to using laptops and iPads to do teacher evaluations, administrators may find that the high-tech tools are getting in the way of their capturing the events and interactions that really matter in the classroom.
For the past 10 years, I have been utilizing digital-pen technologies that give me the best of both worlds. I can easily create or use an existing form, print it out, and fill it in using a digital pen. In doing this I have not changed my workflow, but when I am done writing on the form, I can dock my digital pen and within seconds a PDF is created with all of my notes captured. The form can then be emailed, archived, used to populate a database, or shared as I see fit.
As I share with educators that I work with, let the end needs determine the tools that are best suited for the job—and in some cases it just may be a digital pen.
Brian S. Friedlander
Associate Professor of Education
College of St. Elizabeth
A version of this article appeared in the December 12, 2012 edition of Education Week as Technology Should Fit Real Needs of Educators