flickr photo by walknboston
For some time now, I have been considering a Tweet I read while at a recent technology conference. The gist of the comment was that technology is not a tool, it is an experience that will lead to student success. Technology is not a tool? I would argue that technology is exactly that…a tool…a powerful tool if applied correctly…but a tool nonetheless.
There is a certain degree of risk in assuming that just by “experiencing” technology, our students will benefit. As an example, consider PowerPoint. PowerPoint has become a tool of choice for classroom teachers to “incorporate” technology, but that dones not mean it is effective. While completing a registration form for the upcoming Computer Using Educator’s Conference, I had to laugh at the title of one of the sessions: PowerPointless – The Art of Electronic Chloroform. How true! Bad instructional practice and pedagogy is still bad, even with the incorporation of technology.
We shouldn’t make the mistake of believing that the critical skills our students need to develop – problem solving, collaboration, leadership, creativity, difference making – are so dependent upon the use of technology that we forget to pursue traditional means of fostering growth in these areas.
The reality is that even though many of our schools are moving in the direction of increased technology access (i.e. wireless campuses, 1:1 laptop initiatives, use of personal technology devices), we are not there yet. However, that does not mandate us to carry out “business as usual,” nor does it excuse us from exploring creative ways to foster 21st century skill development–even if our level of access isn’t ideal. A recent post entitled Paper Blogging
on Rod Lucier’s blog The Clever Sheep
, addressed a unique way of introducing students to the art of blogging and commenting–sans computers. What a fantastic way to engage students in the writing process, encourage collaboration and develop a sense of ownership.
We shouldn’t succumb to participation paralysis–a phenomena frequently seen in the applied use of educational technology in the classroom. Too many tools. Too many obstacles. Too many students. Too many restrictions. Not enough technology. Not sure where to begin. As educational leaders, we must advocate for the utilization of technology, but we also need to remember that technology is a “means to an end (or beginning)”, not necessarily “the end.”
As I have previously mentioned, I believe we have an obligation to help students learn to use technology to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of their learning experience. That being said, we need to understand that technology is not the answer to student success–it is however, a significant part of the solution.