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Final Thoughts

Page history last edited by Dave M 15 years, 6 months ago

Taken all together, the view for technology and digital communication K-16 is hopeful, but there is a long road ahead that will need support from all Educators.  The technology exists in our schools for the most part, thanks to the scrambling made in the 1990s to move computers and networks into classrooms via corporate gifting and generous budgets.  But now, the internet has embedded itself in our lives and our students lives so much, that both sides are struggling to make sense of it.  How can education stay relevant in a time where students are immersed in their own networks and communication tools, and the teacher battles them for focus on topics that don't interest them?  Modern Education as we know it grew out of apprenticeship in the pre-industrial ages, and we need to recognize that it should be no different today.  We need to provide a solid pathway for our students to grow and learn through childhood and into adulthood, and become capable and happy members and shapers of society.

 

Business has changed and new technologies are revealing new avenues for enhanced communication and collaboration tools never before seen.  Even in these times of strained budgets, technology must continue to made available to schools.  Open sources alternative for expensive software packages are already lowering the barriers to entry for course management systems (Moodle and Sakai) and virtual learning spaces (like DimDim) and making these opportunities available in schools where it wasn't before.

 

Effective Training and Technology

Teaching and learning as we know it needs to grow and adapt through our own actual use of technology and taking advantage of any professional opportunities that are out there.  This means professional development time must be dedicated to instructors to practice the type of digital communication tools we are advocating.  We need to maintain the hardware we have already put in place, and begin to look beyond that into applications available out over the web, or in the "cloud."  How can the tools today like news and media aggregators, social networking sites, online office and collaboration suites, and virtual worlds be leveraged into the curriculum we are presenting to students.  This is more than teaching a student how create a spreadsheet or a slideshow, but to think critically about the choice of media, it's validity, and to create something meaningful which answers the problem but then calls to mind more questions as well.

 

A more holistic use of technology in our classrooms as a tool with which the students can create, remix, and answer their own questions is a more methodological change that needs to be supported by the schools leadership or district leadership, one that focuses on content creation and inquiry learning rather than having students read out loud from the "information machines."  Greater access to assistive technology will also expand benefits of technology to all.

 

Smart business decisions need to be made at the highest level with enough input from faculty so the wrong tool isn't brought into the school, this costs everyone time and money. Once implemented at a school, opportunities should be made available for educators to learn about and sandbox the technology and how can be integrated into the curriculum.   Faculty needs to have a say in this process on all sides. Current research in how to continue to innovate with technology should be made common reading in the lunchrooms.

 

New Possibilities

Web 2.0 and newer communication technologies are finally providing a level playing field for students, educators, and parents to play a role in the future of education.  One recalls Thomas Friedman's stories in "The World Is Flat" only to demonstrate how quickly business is changing.  Our schools should be coming along for the ride since it would be a shorter run for our students to jump on the moving train.

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