Educator, trainer, and presenter, Thomas Crawford talks about educational technology and how new and seasoned teachers can start using it more effectively in their classrooms.Dorit:Hello Thomas, I want to thank you so much for taking time to take part in this interview. You just came back from the blog conference in Seattle. Can you give our readers a conference brief on some new insights on educational technology happening for new and seasoned teachers? The conference was the T + L (Technology and Learning) event by the NSBA.Thomas:Schools are moving very quickly into the 21st century. The T+L conference sponsored by the National School Board Association (NSBA) allows educators, administrators and school board members to have access to the most current and insightful technology available to them. It is more than a vendor fair. It is an opportunity to share and discuss innovations in information technology through round table discussions and forums.Dorit:What advice can you give new and seasoned teachers who are just starting to express an interest in using educational technology, but don’t feel 100% comfortable using it?Thomas:Teachers can learn the technology by using it and not being scared from it, which makes things a lot easier. We tell our students that practice makes perfect. The same goes for us. I always tell teachers to ask for help if they need it.Teachers should spend time getting to know any online learning resource or computer program before implementing it in their classrooms. Therefore, practice and asking questions is the key to adapting with any new form of technological instruction. Start small and use your colleagues as resourcesDorit:In many of the schools I teach, I see whiteboards collecting dust and teachers are simply not using them. Can you explain why this is so? What are some alternatives?Thomas:Often, whiteboards are misused. They become a very expensive display device and their potential is not maximized. In addition, whiteboards loose a lot of interactivity and student engagement because the placement of the whiteboard. In many elementary classrooms it is often too high and out of students reach. As a result, students are not engaged and discipline problems can occur. There are some cost effective ways to deal with the issue by using a projector, wireless slate. This way, the teacher can move around the classroom and still maintain some degree of interactive control.Dorit:You spent a great deal of time in London working with some of the online educational resources. What are your observations and insights about how teachers use educational technology? How can US teachers improve their understanding of information technology in the classroom?Thomas:I worked in a primary school in London. Teachers like to share and they like things that are free or inexpensive. In the UK there is an abundance of teacher created web based resources that are readily available. The government even put together free web based resources for teachers. The more teachers used these resources, the more confident they became about creating their own. Here in the US, teachers can experiment with different resources from around the world to gain understanding of how the Internet and its resources can be used effectively in our own classrooms. We can learn a lot form what International organizations such as ISTE and BECTA (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) have to offer.Dorit:What makes an instructional design successful in terms of its ability to engage learners?Thomas:A successful instructional design is one that addresses all the needs of the students and has a multi-sensory approach. By this I mean it has a highly interactive web based activities, audio-video components at the very least, and is also easy to follow, understand and navigate.Dorit:Please share with our teachers the features of your website and how teachers can differentiate their instruction to cater to English language learners, (ELLs) group instruction and working with students of special needs. What makes it user-friendly and accessible for ALL teachers?Thomas:In addition to curriculum from a host of content providers that include full courses with assessments and individual learning objects, the IQity platform allows teachers to custom design classroom assignments, lesson plans or units to meet the needs of individualized learning style of single students, small group and large mixed ability classes.In fact, custom designing lesson plans helps with the classroom management piece by catering to individualized instruction. Teachers can design multiple assignments based on a students IEP. There are several hundred schools using our platform successfully with positive results. Schools use IQity as a platform for a full time digital school, additional course offering and even credit recovery.Dorit:Great! Well, thanks very much Thomas for this interview.Thomas: It was my pleasure and I hope new and seasoned teachers alike find this information useful.