Just returned from attending the ISTE (International Society of Technology in Education) conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference was attended by over 14,000 people — teachers, administrators, and other educators all crowded into one conference center. The goal for these educators was to learn more about the exploding area of Technology in Education. As I walked through the exposition hall, I was overwlemed by the sheer number of technology applications available, which included everything from devices to use in the classroom, to the programs and/or whole classes that can run on them.
To me, this begs a fundamental question: If there are so many Ed. Tech. applications out there, why are we not seeing more of them used in schools? Why does learning still encompass mostly classroom led lectures and textbook reading? The simple answer may be that educators are overwelmed by the sheer number of choices and the ever growing selection of Ed. Tech applications. There is no simple answer for technology usage in the classroom because learning itself is anything but simple. There is no one-size-fits-all application for every school and every student.
I believe we need to start resisting the urge to look at the shiny new devices. Instead we should begin to focus in on the students. Where is their learning impared? In what ways can it be improved? Do they need more practice? — a well designed tutorial might be the right solution. Or perhaps they are lacking in motivation — then how about a fun game or simulation, one that can put the student right into the context or “thick of it” in whatever the subject matter.
We have to get past the “coolness” of the devices and consider that they are still just tools. Tools can improve the learning when they are applied to the correct situation. And, of course, to get more ideas, you can read my book, Individualized Learning with Technology – Meeting the Needs of High School Students. Technology has allowed for customizing our needs, everything from our phones, to the music we like, to our favorite web sites. It can do the same to customize our learning in the later grades and throughout our lives.