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WEtechOn March 2, 2013 I had the honor and privilege to give the keynote at WEtech 13. The theme of the conference was:                                                                     Technology + Teaching = Student Engagement 

The theme of my keynote was ENGAGE. Below is the second in a series of excerpts from my speech designed to encourage educators to engage in the use of technology to improve instruction and enhance learning.

What does engagement through technology look like for educators?

Today, it looks like a triangle. The base is lurking. As we lurk we learn and there is a break point in which our lurking and learning leads to understanding and contributing. To me these run simultaneously.

The more we understand the more we should contribute. But here is where the problem exists for educators. We are either unsure how to engage or what to use to engage. So as a result our engagement is minimal.

For others the break point is literally that a break point for which the connection is not made and no further use of or engagement in the use of technology occurs in the classroom. Learning returns to the way it has always been.

Instead we should attempt to use our time to lurk and learn to the break point in which we see the value in using technology and social media in education which then results in increased contributions and ultimately full engagement.

How this happens is when we begin to understand and accept that we can teach and learn beyond our classroom with the assistance of technology. Our students can engage inside and outside of the school.

And our students want to do this… NOW!

But most importantly it happens when we consider technology a tool similar to paper and a pencil, and not that extra special thing that is used every once in a while as a treat or bonus.

There are people who say taking learning outside of the classroom through the use of technology and creating learning opportunities that have no physical or time boundaries isn’t necessary or is too much for our students. I say this is modern day educational engagement. Technology and Teachers are creating an environment for student engagement that we have never seen before.

It’s interesting, educational, fun, collaborative, and innovative.

But this new transformation needs to be seen as valuable to learning. If we are going to engage our students using technology then let’s do it because it will:

  1. Improve student learning, and
  2. Make instruction more efficient

There is no reason to use technology in education if it does not do these two things. By doing both we are being innovative with technology and when we are innovative others want to emulate our efforts.

But we can-not imagine being innovative if WE don’t…

ENGAGE

Almost twenty years ago I sat in a professional development workshop by an entertaining futurist who sent the message that teachers would be replaced by technology in the very near future. Imagine this was a message given to a room of teachers to start their year!

At the time we had nothing like what we have today. Laptops were not prevalent in schools, forget the idea of tablets and iPads, and the thought of smartphones and the zillions of apps now available were still years and years away. But that message left an impression on me. Specifically, could we, humans… teachers… educators and our schools be replaced by a box?

If so, I just wasted 4 years of college and didn’t have a back-up plan. The common arguments against this idea went around about the need for schools as places for socialization of students. But that is not why this educational prophecy failed. It failed because it was an extreme. It assumed all or none and anticipated that educators would not evolve as technology did. It also assumed that educators would want to maintain the status quo.

What it failed to realize is that educators would change and we would…

ENGAGE

It failed to realize that as educators changed, we would work to change our classroom environments. It failed because as teachers we saw the value in getting our students to…

ENGAGE

But it has taken almost 20 years for this to happen. For education that is rather fast. Just think about it… How long did we use chalk as our primary instructional tool?

I’m happy to say that with the advancement of technology and infusion of it in our schools two things are true:

1. We will not be replaced by a box, and                                                                                      2. We are now using technology to engage our students.

As educators we need to understand that this is one of our professional responsibilities. Student engagement through technology is here… now… it’s not an educational prophecy… it is a reality.

You, I, WE need to…

ENGAGE!

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