Technology is dynamic and evolving—and this fact is especially true for education. There are three major shifts going on right now in the use of educational technology or technology in education and in particular the place of technology in the learning process. These changes are fundamental and completely changing the world of education.
These bold education changes can be summarized as shifts: from delivery to exploration, from general solutions to personalized, and from access for the few to access for the many.
From Delivery to Exploration in Education Technology
In the past, education has been delivered to the student, wrapped up in a one-size-fits-all neat little bow. Students read and they learn by describing in reports and projects what they read.
Technology offers the opportunity for students to explore on their own and learn in the process. The Sunnyside, AZ school district has high school students in a biotech class taking genome samples and documenting the process via a webcam. The students plan to publish their findings in a peer-reviewed journal. With technology, students move from being consumers to creators who design, build, explore, and, ultimately, publish content.
From General to Customized and Personalized
Students learn at different speeds—and educational technology allows them to learn at their own pace. Students can start off with the same parameters, but succeeding lessons based on the outcomes can lead to a deeper exploration of the students’ interests. Educational technology allows students to discover an entire world of ideas, technologies, disciplines and skills with their curiosity leading the way. Markedly, customized learning fills students’ need to learn the necessary prerequisites to engage in society and work, while also developing their passion.
From Tech Elites to Access for All
There is a myth that technology is expensive. This idea leads to the notion that access to technology is only available to those who can afford it. With the internet, students can access tools remotely with the cooperation of other schools and universities that have the equipment. The mayor of Chattanooga, TN, saw the potential and need of having a fast internet connection, coupled with high definition camera to connect students to a university with access to a scanning microscope worth $1 million. The community does not need to own expensive equipment. They only need to be able to use it. This approach levels the playing field for students from less affluent communities to be able to have the same access as those studying in expensive private schools.
Through technology, there is actually no need for the resource to be physically in the room. People who can teach programming can be accessed and thus, are able to extend their skills to the students. This scenario allows for more students and schools to compete with private schools. This case is what happened in Rhode Island where the district was able to raise the level of learning achievement significantly. With their educational technology program, public school students passed the AP Computer Science test at the same rate as those from private schools.
The Bottom Line on the Bold Impact of Educational Technology
The use of educational technology allows bold shifts in the way teaching is done. It also provides better opportunities for the less affluent. Schools can make a difference in education by using technology in extending the reach of the school. Remote access and cooperation with colleges and universities allow for more advanced technology to be available to elementary and high school students. Indeed, all that is the bold impact of educational technology in closing the digital divide!