Sunday, December 13, 2015

What Matters Most

“Forcing teachers and students to use tech because you have it will never get the results you want. Integrate when appropriate.” – Eric Sheninger

I love technology. Now most of you are not shocked by that statement so let me explain it with some more detail.  I love technology for its ability to transform lives and professional practice.  The formation of a Personal Learning Network (PLN) has opened my eyes and mind to an array of ideas, strategies, and tools to support and enhance learning through the assistance of technology.  Society, the landscape in our schools, and the learners who we serve continue to change as our digital world evolves. This not only presents a fantastic opportunity to implement transformative practices, but it also represents a distinct call for action.

The possibilities are quite endless, but the wrong focus can and will result in disaster. Forcing students and educators to use technology just for the sake of using it will never transform teaching and learning. There are no quick fixes for the many prevalent issues in our education system. Viewing technology as a silver bullet or cure is misguided at best.  As I continue to watch districts, schools, and classrooms infuse technology at a surface level, in most cases I am seeing no distinct changes in teaching, learning and leadership. This is what matters most. 

Image credit: http://cvsteps.com/wp-content/uploads/learn1.jpg

As adult learners there should be emphasis on improving instructional design and pedagogical techniques that will develop students into critical thinkers and problem solvers.  There is also a glaring need to create better means to assess and provide feedback to students as to whether or not they are meeting the higher standards that educators are now tasked with addressing.  The key to learning success resides in always focusing on building a strong instructional foundation.

With this in mind, technology does not become an add-on or gimmick just to engage students. Its role becomes integral to the instructional process through support and enhancement of learning outcomes aligned to more rigorous standards.  Technology in itself promises nothing. It is what you and your students do with technology aligned to sound pedagogy that will make all the difference. In the end technology initiatives will either flourish or flounder. The outcome is in your hands. Lessons, projects, initiatives, and culture should never be built around technology. Focus on learning first and foremost and the possibilities of technology are endless. That’s what matters most.  This is, after all, the primary role of education. 

7 comments:

  1. I really appreciate this post, Eric. After learning with you in Columbia, MO, my Instructional Tech Coaches and I have been emphasizing this - especially with admin. Teachers often complain about a lack of access to tech, but I'm not sure they always know how they would use it to accelerate the learning. That's where good collaborative conversations about pedagogy make a true difference - and it helps to involve someone with an understanding of tech tools, so they can provide direction in that area.

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    1. Thanks Keri! There always seems to be more of an emphasis on the tool as opposed to how that tool will help students demonstrate conceptual mastery in rigorous ways.

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  2. I really appreciate this post, Eric. After learning with you in Columbia, MO, my Instructional Tech Coaches and I have been emphasizing this - especially with admin. Teachers often complain about a lack of access to tech, but I'm not sure they always know how they would use it to accelerate the learning. That's where good collaborative conversations about pedagogy make a true difference - and it helps to involve someone with an understanding of tech tools, so they can provide direction in that area.

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  3. "It is what you and your students do with technology aligned to sound pedagogy that will make all the difference."


    I completely agree! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the importance of teaching WITH technology rather than having technology do the teaching.

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    1. We now just need more people to embrace this vision.

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  4. Eric
    You have absolutely 'nailed it'. We promote, and work in, a 'blended learning' environment where our mantra is 'use the right tool for the job'. This helps to ensure that we are thinking about how best to cause learning rather than how best to use any technology.

    Thanks for articulating your thoughts.
    Kind regards
    Robin

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  5. While I agree that this is the holy grail... it is a catch 22, the tools need to be available to enable staff to shift to more relevant, engaging teaching creating this increased learning environment.

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