Part 1: Move beyond the technology
In honor of this week's ISTE conference — a premiere education technology conference in San Antonio, TX— I want to discuss how schools, educators and IT can provide students with the best conditions for success.
It’s not about the technology. This defiant mantra is still prevalent in education. But why? While learning should be the leading driver for all discussions and decisions that impact student success, the topic of technology continues to taint our conversations.
In order to support the individual needs of all learners, we must spend our time and resources wisely – not letting technology limit us or drive our decisions. Instead, we should allow the technology, specifically the device, to be a conduit that enables learning, embracing the fact that it’s an important tool in education. So why is there so much debate on this topic?
Going back in time 20 years, we saw a very different picture. There was minimal discussion on technology in education. As we progressed through the years, people were willing to accept small steps forward as big improvements on this front. For instance, a teacher presenting material from their computer onto a screen was, by some, seen as notable technological progression in the classroom. The teacher-centered lecture model of technology had a new spin, yes, but it was the same old model. There are ways to take bigger, more impactful steps.
Frameworks that could aid in this movement, like ACOT and TPACK, have been around a while. And in the early 2000s, LoTi, SAMR, 4Cs and TIMs emerged as evaluation models for technology integration. They shifted the focus to student-centered, high-level thinking. Now, with these powerful tools, we can move the discussion forward and reevaluate the main drivers of learning.
Get past the limits of a technology
Regardless of your current platform, or what you may adopt in the future, I suggest using an evaluation tool comparable to SAMR. By using rubrics that insist on the potential of the technology you implement, you can better understand the effect it has on learning. For instance, the founder of SAMR, Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura, believes in moving learning from simple substitution and augmentation to use cases that apply modification and redefinition of former practices.
When it comes to implementing new technology, it’s important to fully evaluate how it will live in the classroom. Will your model meet each individual student’s needs? And will it grow with students as their maturity and knowledge base expand? As with SAMR, improving the technology implementation in your environment could consist of mass customization and an agile approach to moment-by-moment adjustments.
Think of linking digital citizenship programs to students’ privileges on their devices. Instead of granting all students the same permissions, consider providing access to different applications or resources based on their actions. Support your digital equity efforts by focusing on customized learning environments for all students.
With all of this in mind, let’s start a new discussion around technology that focuses on promoting measured progress and a gradual transformation, all while also tending to students’ dynamic needs.