Friday, April 13, 2012

How will we use the educational technology?

If you read my blog regularly, you know that one of my biggest pet peeves is acquiring technology without first asking the question: What is it we want to accomplish? It's always seemed crazy to me to listen to vendors and advertisers show off the newest and greatest technology, get excited about the bells and whistles, and then jump in head first to a massive purchase and rollout of the technology without knowing what in the world we are trying to do that couldn't be accomplished before we spent the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on the new technology.

I just read two articles in the April 2012 District Administration magazine that address this issue in two different ways. The first article, "Using Tomorrow'sTechnology to Teach Yesterday's Curriculum" by Cathleen Norris and Elliot Soloway, concerns the crazy notion of purchasing $600 tablets only to use them for flashcard or drill and practice apps. The point being that tablets may hold all the promise in the world to contribute to 21st Century skills such as "teamwork and problem solving," but if we don't purposefully use them that way, we've wasted the $600.

The second article, "The Three Pillars of 21st Century Learning" by Rob Mancabelli, talks about moving away from what he deems the old pillars of education: "the textbook, the lecturer, and the classroom," to the new pillars, paraphrased here: I'm only one of my students' teachers; I must teach my students to learn independently; and student knowledge is partially a product of their networks.

Take a look at the original articles. Both of them bolster my belief that school technology is only as beneficial to learning as our ability to view teaching and learning in new ways. Until we are willing to shift our thinking, we might as well have saved our technology dollars.

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