If you have read my blog posts or heard me present, you will know right away that I am a huge proponent of using technology in our field of education. My philosophy on its use is simple and comes down to the fact that educational technology has to improve learning and teaching. However, as we infuse educational technology into our schools we have to deal with a generational gap when it comes to effectively using this technology. As you read this you will immediately go to that place in your mind where you rationalize that our students, who were born into this technology generation, have the upper hand and our staff, who have immigrated into it, are at a disadvantage. I am of the belief that this concept is not true. I feel both students and teachers are at a disadvantage when it comes to effectively using educational technology, and it is our responsibility, as educators, to assure that both have a comprehensive knowledge of how to properly use technology for learning and teaching.
Why would our students be at a disadvantage and not be able to use technology effectively for learning? Simply put, because the technology they use and the purposes they use it for on a daily basis have little if anything to do with education. Their daily use has everything to do with communication and socialization. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this reason but their primary use is not educationally focused. Therefore, as educators, it is our responsibility to show them, teach them, and infuse in them the power of educational technology for learning purposes. This is happening at some schools across the country but it is not the primary focus when schools and districts infuse 1 to 1, BYOD, apps, new software, and campus wide wifi. Instead we say here it is, and now go use it. But I’ve heard from students, friends of my own children, and my own children this phrase, “I can’t do that.” The “that” is use the educational technology effectively for their learning. It’s not because they don’t want to, it’s because they don’t know how.
For our teachers the problem is similar. Technology is being infused into our schools and classrooms at an expeditious rate. But how to use it, when to use it, and how to assure that its use is improving the teaching and learning are secondary issues to having the technology available. Again, I am in full agreement that we need educational technology in our schools. But even our teachers feel the stress of infusing technology and the phrase “I can’t do that” is common when trying to figure out how to balance an engaging classroom environment, new Common Core Curriculum, standardized assessments, and the infusion of technology. I don’t blame them for the stress they are feeling but I realize that it’s my responsibility to alleviate that stress and help them in the process.
The solution starts with assuring our focus is on teaching and learning, and transforming our view of educational technology as something that is added to our list of responsibilities as educators to one that its use will help us teach more effectively and our students learn in new and better ways. In the process of transforming education through these devices, apps, software, wifi, etc. we need to explain the purpose, model the use, demonstrate the power, and teach both educators and students how this technology can and should be used in educational settings. The technology is here, we just need to remember that its presence alone does not produce a better educational environment for our students and teachers. But it can and will if we put a focus back on how these amazing tools can and should be used. My hope is that in the end we will go from “I can’t do that” to “It can do that?” to “I did that!”.