There is absolutely no doubt about it – the landscape of education is changing, and changing for good. As technology becomes increasingly engrained in every facet of our lives, teachers and schools have found themselves struggling to keep up to this breakneck pace. It’s clear that this technology isn’t going anywhere, and that it can help facilitate enriching educational experiences that were once the stuff of science fiction. But in order for this to happen, edtech needs to be done right – and many schools aren’t doing it right.
So where are schools going wrong, and what can they do to prevent these foibles from becoming full-blown liabilities?
Search for any education blog and you can find a whole host of articles about the benefits of 1:1 iPad programs, the latest educational apps or up-and-coming school social network systems. These things are all exciting and can provide excellent benefits for learning. The problem, it seems, comes with the planning and implementation of these initiatives.
For one thing, there is the cost. Buying enough iPads for your class or licensing an application for every staff member is an expensive endeavour and should not be undertaken as a spur-of-the-moment initiative. As technology evolves quickly today it is likely that the pricey purchase you make today will be obsolete a year from now. And when there is hardware involved, you need to deal with the wear and tear that a group of students will no doubt inflict upon your devices. Ensuring that you are making a purchase that will deliver substantial improvements in the learning process to students should be the focus of the tech purchase process, regardless of budget or scope.
So if a massive investment in time and money is being made, how do we ensure that this investment is worthwhile? This is where a lot of schools stumble. Implementing technology into classroom pedagogy in a way that makes it a valuable resource is what schools need to focus on going forward. Having tons of technology does not mean that the technology is being implemented in a way where it contributes to learning rather than serving as a distraction or ‘busy work’ activity. When technology creates an environment where students learn more effectively and teachers teach more effectively it becomes immensely important and amazing things can happen as a result.
Teachers and schools need to be more strategic going forward about which technology they purchase and how they use that technology. Technology shouldn’t be ‘the’ answer to improving students’ learning – a meaningful solution for integrating technology in a way that it makes this learning happen is what we really need to strive for. And when investment in these resources leads to real learning results, that investment will truly be worth it.
Jessica Downey is a member of the Planboard team who is passionate about 21st century learning practices. She believes in empowering teachers to improve the way the teach through technology. In her spare time she can be found watching basketball of sailing on Lake Ontario.