…radio, television, movies, telephones, computers, vehicles, farming, pencils, chalkboards, dataprojectors, microwaves…..
History goes to show, that each time a new form of technology explodes into our fast paced world, there is an assumption that “everything is about to change“. ANDDDD maybe to some extent that is true. In our fast paced, technologically changing world, it can be a very daunting task for the uneducated person, to remain on top of the latest forms of technology that are constantly evolving and morphing into the next big thing.
The list of types of technology that has evolved over time is limitless. When we take a minute to think about the evolution of technology in the education system, we come to realize, that technology has been happening since the beginning of education itself.
So really, what is technology? In a recent Tedx Talk video, Greg Toppo takes a deeper look at educational technology today. Here, Larry Cuban is quoted on his technological views stating that educational technology is “any device available to teachers for use in instructing students in a more efficient and stimulating manner than the sole use of the teacher’s voice”.
This week’s debate topic questioned whether technology in education was able to close education gaps or improve education. This really got me thinking. Previous to this class, my answer had always been a solid yes. In fact, I felt bad for the team that had to fight for the “no” side, especially since we are taking an Ed. Tech. class. However, I did not expect to agree with much from Team “No”, and I found myself nodding my head in agreement to pretty much everything that the team had to say. My final stance on the decision was somewhere in the middle. Both teams did an excellent job on showing us the pros and cons to educational technology.
Being a newbie to the Zoom room, I must say, that I had a first hand negative experience with technology this week. I had done all of the steps to prepare myself for the Zoom room previous to Tuesday, however, when things got going, I found the video streaming, the side chat, and the navigation of the program, somewhat overwhelming…. I was pretty much like this:
It was after this experience, and while I was reading the course articles, that I took some time to reflect on my experiences with educational technology. I’ve always found myself to be fairly technologically literate. Yet, as I read Sam Carlson’s article, I realized that although I am able to use the basic functions of most technology that I come into contact with, I am realistically just scratching the surface in terms of using the devices and am in no way really using them to their full potential. This is often the case for many educators…and it IS a problem. Such was the case in my experience with zoom room. In order to make the most of the experience and to enhance my learning to the fullest extent, I now need to alter a few things to further my learning experience next week.
So what do we need in order to be more successful? Well sure, more PD. But what does that need to look like? Well, when we looked at the heart of the TPAK framework it becomes easier to see that being able to use technology in the classroom involves much more than simply being able to navigate a device. We as educators need to have a solid grasp of the content, the pedagogy AND the incorporation of technology in order to provide successful technology rich learning experiences. In order to actually benefit from using the Zoom room myself, I will need to become more familiar with the technology, so that it promotes my learning rather than hinders it. Once I am more comfortable with using the Zoom room, the distraction of “figuring it out” will no longer be there, and I will be able to better shift my focus to getting a deeper grasp of the content, which derives from the instruction that my peers are creating.
My experience in the Zoom room can be directly correlated to our roles as educators. As teachers we need to understand how to use technology, but also its pedagogical application in order to improve student learning, not just to say, “yeah, we are using technology in the classroom”. Once we can confidently provide this balance, deeper learning and student achievement is possible.
So what do we REALLY do, in order to create a positive change to maximize technology in education? I happen to have a few opinions on this. Saying FUNDING, FUNDING, we need more FUNDING, is not realistic. So we need to optimize the funding that we do have. We need to provide better education to the educators with the funding that we do have.
- Teaching the educators how to use the technology that we do have is a must. Yes, this costs money, but if we better educated those implementing the technology into the classroom how to use all of the functions of devices, how to problem shoot when a computer crashes, how to clean up a computer before it gets too slow, how to use more than just Microsoft word on computer, maybe computers would last longer in the schools causing less need for replacement technology when things break down. Maybe then, computers wouldn’t spend half of their life spans on the shelf downtown waiting to be reformatted. Maybe providing this education to those implementing the software, would help this knowledge to be filtered down to the students, which as a result would lengthen the lifespan of a technological device. Technological PD of any kind, is just a plain good idea.
- Providing Mentorship programs. The International Society for Technology in Education provides a diagnostic tool to determine competency levels for using technology. By having teachers identify what their competency level is, a mentorship program could be easily created within school systems to help teachers engage with one another to promote self-learning and school wide support systems.
- Remember that technology is not everything. Yes, it is important. If used properly, it can be a true asset. But we need to remember that like the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development states, those who use the most technology in the school systems, do not always perform the best. We need to ensure a balance between experiences that happen with and without technology come meaningfully.
Technology can be a great tool. It CAN change everything, if we take the time, put in the effort, and promote technological leadership that fosters a truly positive academic experience for educators and students alike!
I look forward to this weeks class when my hamster will hopefully look a little more like this:
Until next week…cheers!