More Than Just A Tool – Technology As Transformative Opportunity

Technology is more than just a tool, it is a total game changer. To paraphrase an old Jedi Master, we must unlearn how we learned. To my mind, there are several transformative opportunities for teaching made possible by technology that go way beyond trading paper and pen for a Chromebook or iPad.

Ubiquitous Access To Information

In a classroom where students have anytime access to the Internet at their fingertips, the opportunities are endless. This is a big shift in thinking about how information should be presented to students; no longer wrapped and bound in a sequenced set of pages, but rather presented as a guided discovery process with hidden nooks and crannies and undiscovered continents behind every new question. Learning should be an adventure, not a fixed stairway that eventually leads to a single doorway. In the 21st Century, the literacy of searching, of accessing information, should be as fundamental as reading and writing.

Instant Feedback

The end of week quiz must have been born from necessity, a form of feedback that was made super simple by the Scantron (thankfully I skipped them in my classes but sadly still managed to mirror the experience with Moodle quizzes). The drawbacks of the Scantron, or weekly spelling test or INSERT ANY TRADITIONAL PAPER QUIZ/TEST HERE form of assessment is that the results have a built in time delay, namely the teacher’s grading cycle. With technology tools like Socrative, Kahoot and heck, even a basic Google Form, the feedback cycle can be cut to ZERO. Kids can know immediately wether they got something right or wrong, and giving the test over and over again until everyone (or the magic 80%) get it right, is super simple. Why everyone isn’t jumping on this form of instant feedback assessment is beyond me. It may take a bit more effort to initially setup (no way it’s as hard as building a Moodle quiz) but once it’s done, the time savings alone are worth it. Oh yeah, and it’s better for kids too. Dare I say transformative?

Collaboration

Google Docs. It’s all there. Real time student collaboration with teacher monitoring and input. Asynchronous collaboration with tracked changes. It’s freakin amazing and still there are folks out there that see Google Docs as just an App to use like Word. Nope. Because kids can work together to solve problems, answer questions, form hypotheses, develop stories, INSERT ANYTHING YOU CAN IMAGINE HERE. The possibilities are endless. Real collaboration, used to solve real problems, is the employment currency for the next generation. Technology has transformed how people communicate, collaborate and work in the real world, our classrooms have to adapt to that new reality.

Publish or Perish

It used to be if you wanted to be a TV Star, you had to somehow have access to a hundred million dollar TV network. Not many people made it because not many people had access. Creating, producing and distributing TV shows was expensive. Now, the cost to create and publish is effectively ZERO. That means everyone can be a TV Star. YouTube is the prime example. If everything a student produced in class, call it an artifact of learning or an assessment, was published online to a learning history, how powerful would that story be? The cost to do it is no longer money, now it’s mindset. Publish often or perish. Learning to present, argue, persuade to a real audience, in the digital mediums of the present, outside the four walls of the classroom, is certainly transformative for students.

Just a tool. Really? What do you think?

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