Is Educational Technology Worth the Hype?
Each January, I have the opportunity to facilitate a course in Leading and Managing Technology for the Educational Leadership Program at St. Mary's College of California. We organize our learning by exploring the question, "Is educational technology worth the hype?" Together we read Michael Fullens' book Stratosphere, interview school leaders, explore educational technology tools, and follow and comment on education blogs.
The students loaded their artifacts of their learning on a web-based digital portfolio called PathBrite. Finally, each student answered the question of whether ed tech is worth the hype on our class blog, worththehypeornot. Each year I select one student to take over my blog in February. This year I am handing it over to Colleen Clements.
Colleen Clements' teaching experience includes seven years of middle school instruction at Saint Matthew Catholic School in San Mateo. Prior to that Colleen taught Environmental Education at an outdoor program for fifth- to eighth-graders throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Colleen currently teaches Bicycle Safety to second to eighth grade students with the Safe Routes to Schools program of Sonoma County. Colleen most enjoys teaching students through interactive and experiential learning. Here's Colleen:
The Hype is Here to Stay!
A question of the "worthiness" of the hype surrounding the use of technology in modern education seems almost moot. That ship has sailed and we've entered the vast ocean of the digital age as a society. Similar to a Pandora's box, society has bought into the hype of technology (both figuratively and literally) and technological innovation cannot reverse course. Therefore, use of technology in education must attempt to prepare today's learners to meet the demands of tomorrow. Whether or not education rides with or resists the waves of change within in the classroom, the momentum of a technologically dependent economy and society will continue. Our students will grow up within a society that demands a proficient and prolific use of multiple technologies. They need support from educators to navigate the vast ocean of information technology and the intellectual skills necessary to survive and thrive in our modern digital world.
One key benefit of the technology hype in education has been the re-examination of the role of education for the 21st century. Technology has made access to information fast, easy and prolific. Education therefore serves less as an access point for information, but rather a community within which to develop ones ability for purposeful, skilled and intelligent use of information. Successful education now includes a pedagogy that allows students to discover personal interests through choice, enhances intellectual capacity to discern between and utilize various sources of information, improves ability to collaborate with peers and mentors to create, develop, and publish authentic works or applications of information and provides opportunities for students to engage in real-life experiences in our rapidly changing society.
In a way, education must play "catch-up" in this digital age and learn to utilize technology that today's students want to and already interact with. Further, technology can assist educators in guiding students to become solution-oriented citizens prepared to face the challenges of a multifaceted and diverse world.
However, the hype to use the latest and greatest technological innovation must serve as a secondary concern for educators and educational institutions. In essence, focusing on the type of technology used in education rather than the purposeful use of technology could grant teachers access to the technological tools without any vision for what to build. Education must primarily focus on developing life-long learners with the ability "self-educate" utilizing the vast quantities of online information, digital media, digital learning communities and applications (free and otherwise) as a means to a purposeful, productive and self-driven end.
What place and importance does technology have in education?