As the author of a blog named Tech For Your Content, I must be a huge advocate for using technology in the classroom, right! Well, yes and no. I am a huge advocate of using technology to revolutionize the learning experience, but not copy and paste the learning experience of the past. We can do better…can’t we?
Revolutionize? I once got scolded by a more experienced teacher sitting in front of me on a plane. She was eavesdropping on my passionate explanation of my role as a Technology Integration Specialist to the intrigued gentleman sitting next to me. I had said to him that technology had the ability to revolutionize the learning experience for students.
“Revolutionize?”, she interrupted with.
She then went on to warn me that someone in a leadership role like myself should be cautious about using words like revolutionize when speaking with more experienced educators. I was a bit caught off guard by her advice and a bit deflated, but I knew that if this is how she felt about the idea of technology revolutionizing education, then there would be more with that same mindset. So I am grateful for her input, because it stays in the back of my head as a reminder when I am working with others.
But why not revolutionize education? Technology brings opportunities to education that just 15 years ago, people couldn’t imagine. Oh, that’s the problem. Just 15, 10, 5, heck the iPad has only been around for 4 years, years ago many of these resources did not exist. That is why my job exists. People in tech integration positions help develop teachers’ technological knowledge, so that teachers are aware of their instructional options. Sure, they need to walk before they can run, but the baby steps of technology integration result in a teacher projecting the same notes they would have written on a chalkboard through a PowerPoint presentation or saving a word document as a PDF and uploading it to a website for the kids to download and print at home or fill out on a laptop. This is usually when we get questions about why technology is not engaging the students the way that everyone had promised. Well it is because you have managed to ⌘C your boring curriculum into digital format. If it was boring through pen and paper and nothing pedagogically has changed, it will still be boring in its digital format.
Technology can revolutionize the learning experience for students. Technology integration can be so much more than what ⌘C can offer. Whether it is to give them a device and get them outside exploring and documenting their world to engage them in experiential learning that they blog about later to share with their ePal living on a different continent or if it is harvesting the lightening fast data analysis to group students appropriately for their content learning levels, so that all students are challenged with in their appropriate zone of proximal development or diving into the maker movement to challenge kids to imagine, design and prototype their inventions for changing the world, it is time for education to step away from the ⌘C function and really see what we can do to revolutionize the educational experience for our children.
Though I have thought it since even before that experience 4 years ago on a plane, I haven’t been as quit as excited to share my perspective on revolutionizing education through what technology can offer for fear I might scare off those that I need to join me in that revolution. Sometimes it takes hearing someone else stand up and say it loud and proud to help instead remind you that you aren’t alone in your ideas about how you and other educators should strive to make the educational experience a better one for students. This great TED talk by Richard Culatta (@rec54), who is the director of the Office of Educational Technology (@OfficeofEdTech) for the United States, reminded me that I need to stick to my guns and get out there to say the important things about revolutionizing education, because change can’t happen quietly. With him in the drivers seat, it seems that a revolution might be closer on the horizon!