Nothing Really New- But a Perspective on Ed Tech

Computing technologies have greatly affected the education industry. Education technology history tells a story about society and culture. The main purpose of older technologies (i.e. film, cassettes and overhead projectors) was to ‘teach’. The objectives of new technologies clearly vary. New technologies are powerfully linked to economics. The nation’s prominence and competitive edge are challenged in a rapidly changing global landscape. A focus on the development of high quality ‘information-age adept’ works is crucial to the country’s future. As educators implement more and more technology tools, it is important to understand this historical perspective. It makes us understand why ‘meaningful’ versus ‘low level’ technology application in the classroom is so important. As we’ve muddled through figuring this out, more and advanced uses of technologies knows no bounds!

The classroom has no walls. Online and blended learning options abound. The devices and tools used to access online learning experiences are ubiquitously serving that purpose. The power of relevant ‘use’ of those technologies for other learning processes is significant. It’s a missed opportunity to not well determine how these tools can leapfrog learners’ knowledge and skill development.

Lloyd Morrisett (1996) said that society can be recognized for creating technology- but, at the same time, technology is creating society. These observations would also suggest that technologies are beginning to exercise a ‘good will’ control over us, the end users. We have become habitual information consumers who run the risk of becoming full time passive receivers of information as a form of distraction and/or entertainment instead of engaging the deeper acts of thought and information analysis. These strong influences are evidenced in teaching and learning environments. It is essential that the engagement of education technology be meaningfully fused with curriculum and instruction so it is highly relevant to the development of higher order skills. Technology integration must be well planned and thoughtfully implemented.

Postman (1996) said that technology should be used as an object of inquiry. It is important to understand how we might use technology and also how we are used by technology. Today there are numerous tech tool options and devices. Knowing which serve the mission of facilitating learning activities is key. We need to embrace technologies that are specifically useful because the design qualities call on higher order thinking and problem solving….where students have reason to explore and to learn by discovery.  Technology that calls upon students’ investigative, research and exploration can be well guided by the teachers. In the same sense, technology can be used to solve many difficult tasks such as data analysis, synthesis and program development. Which devices will best serve these tasks? A question that requires quality investigation.

Job candidates are assessed on knowledge and skills needed by the global information market. CEOs and top level decision-makers have great interest in technology as it relates to economics and operational efficiencies. Students exiting high school and higher education need to demonstrate proficiencies not only in technology tool usage but in relevant applications. Wearable tech, artificial intelligences, virtual realities, and the internet of things, etc., permeate our personal, educational and work lives. Technology hides in plain sight. How we interact and utilize these tools matters. Think about how different many aspects of life is today from 20 years ago.   Which of those are NOT the result of the impact of technologies?

Leslie Wilson
One-to-One Institute

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