Over the last few years the seeds of educational technology and social media in education (referred to as EdTech from this point forward) have been planted. Educators have nurtured the early stages of its growth (exploring and modeling), and the roots have begun to dig in (integration). But now what?
Even with the vast majority of people now agreeing that education needs to integrate technology and social media into schools, learning, and teaching there is still this unclear path of what is next. It’s as if the EdTech planted seed was of an unknown origin, and we now wait to see what blooms. We can’t wait. This isn’t an experiment in growing something unknown, and then deciding if we should keep it or throw it away. We don’t have the time or ability to wait and see what grows. Instead we need to nurture what has been planted and help it grow into an educationally self-sustaining change in the way we see, appreciate and do education. Here are 3 steps to nurture that EdTech growth so desperately needed:
- Accept and Create Asyncronous Learning Opportunities
One of the issues that must still be addressed as EdTech moves forward is identifying valid and effective learning opportunities that integrate technology. These integrated learning opportunities change the learning dynamic for students, teachers, and organizations. We need to accept the change and work to create the opportunities that show the value of the change. This change is called asynchronous learning and it is a reality. Once this is accepted, asynchronous learning actually becomes an essential part of the EdTech integration movement. Think about it. Anytime, anywhere learning for everyone! It’s a staggering and exciting thought. But it needs to be accepted and the opportunities created for EdTech to be fully integrated into education.
- Continue to Explore, Model and Integrate New EdTech
If you have been at the forefront of EdTech advocacy, why stop? Things are changing minute by minute in the EdTech world. We can’t be up on every single thing that is changing but we can still be part of the change. As much as we learned in the beginning to be an EdTech advocate, we must continue to learn so we can continue the advocacy. But there is a second reason we must continue to explore and learn. So we also maintain relevance in the EdTech world. What was advocated for just a few years ago may no longer be relevant or of educational use so we must continue to explore. Once our exploration identifies new EdTech we need to model its use so others can see what is being used and how it can be used in our profession. Finally, we need to integrate new EdTech daily into our personal and professional lives. There needs to be a concerted effort to continually explore, model, and integrate new EdTech in education by everyone who believes in this movement. Otherwise this change movement will stagnate and eventually die.
- Stop Trying to Take the Human Out of EdTech
Yes, new technology is being created and implemented daily, and yes this technology is creating asynchronous learning environments for education. But who do you think is creating the learning and the new tech? People. Not just people, but educators. The integration of EdTech should not be approached with the intent of reducing or eliminating people from education. Instead EdTech should be implemented to connect people who would never have the opportunity to connect without technology. It should create learning environments where people learn from experts in the field, in the classroom, and in the laboratories. EdTech should focus on how the technology can enhance what educators have done for centuries. Technology is not human, it’s a tool to help humans, so let’s stop trying to take the human out and find ways to enhance the human experience with EdTech.
So much progress has been made in the development and integration of EdTech in education thanks to the hard work of many educators. However difficult those early years were with planting the seeds of EdTech the next few will be equally, if not more, challenging as what we planted sprouts from the ground and grows. It won’t grow on its own. It needs those that were the early advocates to continue their advocacy, and it needs new advocates who will continue to push EdTech to a new level. The three steps above will help nurture EdTech growth if you are part of the process. Be a part of the process and let’s see what grows. I have a feeling it may be something beyond our wildest hopes!
Note: I originally posted this blog on edsocialmedia.com but it’s still relevant and want to open up the ideas to further discussion.