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What Is the Technology Footprint in Your Classroom?

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Strategies and techniques are provided regarding the benefits of using digital tools to support teaching and learning in any content area or grade level.

In contrast to the technology teachers use in a classroom for their professional use, what is the technology (digital) footprint students use in your classroom? When effectively integrated into teaching and student learning, technology has the power to transform a classroom into an influential learning community. Within this digital community, students use technology tools to create collaborative and personal learning networks to support their learning.

So what is the technology footprint? This is the digital toolbox containing offline and online technology tools and programs students select from as they complete assignments or projects, like a plagiarism checker, writing, and proofreading services. These digital tools may include and not limited to computers, iPads, cell phones, online problem-solving situations, blogs, podcasts, interactive websites, and other Web 2.0 tools.

Benefits of Optimizing a Classroom Digital Footprint: Building a Learning Community

Through optimizing the power of digital footprint within your classroom, students benefit by transforming from passive to active learners. The successful implementation of educational technology elements – including hardware, software, interactive websites, online research resources, and blogs or wikis – signifies a shift beyond merely embracing technology for its novelty. When incorporating technology within your curriculum, it must leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences (PKE) with content.

By leveraging students’ PKE with technology components comprising a digital footprint, they are able to build learning communities within and outside the classroom. These communities are often referred to as personal learning networks. Regardless of the term used, when describing this technology, group work has moved into the 21st century.

Using a classroom’s digital toolbox, students are to gain new content knowledge with the assistance of technology to support collaborative teamwork and learning, instead of playing games or texting. This is an important skill they will need later in life as they enter the 21st-century workforce.

The benefits of optimizing the use of digital technology tools to support teaching and learning, beyond building learning communities, include students:

  • blogging, which improves their reading and writing, along with supporting differentiated instruction.
  • learning how to build a positive digital footprint of their own. This is an important attribute because students in general do not understand the ramifications of some material they post on social media.
  • working with peers to make connections within and between content concepts.
  • building their confidence in learning.
  • learning activities as opposed to passive learning.
  • being more involved in research projects which stimulate critical thinking skills.

How Does a Digital Footprint Work?: Strategies by Grade Level

So, how should your classroom’s digital footprint work to support student learning? The following are strategies for putting your classroom digital footprint to work in support of teaching and learning.

Elementary – students need to share their work and projects with others outside their classroom.

Examples include using tools such as Skype sessions, blogs, and wikis, creating podcasts, digital storytelling, content specific interactive games and programs and presentations.

Middle School – students need to work collaboratively with others outside their classroom. This includes sharing data and information they collected. This also includes providing data and information to students in other schools or classrooms in support of their investigative activities.

Examples include using tools such as Skype, online surveys and polls, Twitter, blogs, wikis, podcasts, presentations using Google Docs, digital storytelling, content-specific interactive games and programs, and web-based learning centers.

High School – students need to work collaboratively inside and outside the classroom to solve real-time issues and problems. Along with the digital tools described in Middle School, a classroom’s digital footprint needs to include using technology tools for:

  • reading content-related blogs to learn what others are thinking and doing.
  • creating content-related student blogs focused on solving real-time issues and problems to help their readers.
  • creating podcasts for lower grade students designed as “How to’s.” This strategy helps students solve problems or conduct investigations using critical thinking skills.
  • participating in online discussions and forums, such as Skype, which are focused on content-related issues. Examples include global warming, historical issues, data analysis, math challenges, literature, and answers to content-related questions.
  • using social networks, such as Twitter, for creating personal learning networks or learning communities. Examples include seeking advice and answers from content experts, reflecting on their learning experiences, and establishing their own digital footprint.


The technology or digital footprint in your classroom focuses on teaching your students to make connections, work collaboratively, and communicate within a personal learning network. This empowers students to move beyond passive learning and take an active role in their learning. So if you are thinking about creating or expanding your classroom’s use of technology, offline and online, there is no time like now!

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