Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What is different about technology today?

Photo by Tsubaki Kaworu
The news is buzzing with ways in which schools and educators are using technology. Many do not feel we use technology enough in our education system. I've been trying to wrap my mind around what makes using technology so urgent now as opposed to 10 or 20 years ago.

Most of the time when I ask people why they think we need to use technology, the answer I get is that students are surrounded by technology when they are not in school. So, to make school relevant, we have to use technology. That doesn't seem to me to be a strong enough argument. Students are surrounded by many things during their off-school hours that we don't feel compelled to bring into the classroom. Television and music are also very much a part of a students non-school life. We bring thing into the classroom on a limited basis as it suits our teaching purposes, but there's not a feeling of urgency that we use these tools any more than we already do.

Today I read an article by Andrew Marcinek about teachers in Massachusetts who worked collaboratively on the beginnings of an ePub. Teachers from across districts spent 4 days together developing educational materials to be used on the iPad. He ended his article with a reason for the urgency around technology that I've been looking for.

Photo by Hagit_. 
Technology does not dramatically change education; it allows us to open it up in different directions. Teachers will always teach, and dynamic pedagogy will always drive the education vehicle forward. The education field always need experts in specified content areas that are able to adapt and innovate their practices from year to year. What technology allows us to do is create broader communities from which we can learn and share. 

The key to the use of technology today is that is eliminates barriers, encourages conversation, and helps students and teachers communicate and collaborate. Technologies of previous eras were one way communication devices. The student was a passive recipient. Technology of today can be used to create not only dialogues, but amazing collaborations with people all around the world. The door is wide open.

1 comment:

  1. A grounded and sane view of technology infusion into education. Thanks, Shari.