In faculty meetings across all 50 states, you’ll find teachers checking email or sneaking in texts and tweets. This same distractedness applies to students in many classrooms, of course.

But technology doesn’t have to be the enemy. New technologies and connected learning opportunities offer teachers and students the chance to communicate and engage in learning both within and beyond classroom walls.

The question is: How can we use emerging technology to facilitate real, engaged teaching and learning?

Lead, don’t follow

There is a startling gap among teachers who use technology for learning. Some view smartphones and computers as gateways for distraction or misuse. Others see opportunities to engage bored students. But my message to both young teachers and students is this: Don’t be afraid to engage in discussions about possibility. You probably have significant experience integrating social and digital media into your daily life. How do you learn best? What captures and keeps your attention? Just keep in mind — it’s never helpful to present yourself as a know-it-all or assume that veteran teachers aren’t tech-savvy. They may have new tips on these tools to share with you.

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