So what makes technology go from bad to good for learning?

Last week I worked with a staff on technology for learning. We opened the morning this question:

“What is something you notice that is bad about using technology in the classroom” This of course raises all the classic negative responses about time, cost, our over saturated media rich society,  distraction, how it is not dependable, etc… We talked around how technology shouldn’t be used all day, and how tech has the ability to isolate.  We talked on how technology can take time away from each other and our surroundings.

Then we followed up with another questions “What is something you notice that is good about using technology in the classroom”. What came out of this brainstorm was how technology provides flexibility, access to resources and spaces, and helps capture process, document learning, and make thinking and learning and research visible.  In fact, depending on how technology can be used, it can connect us more with each other, drive deeper face to face interaction, and connect us with the environment.

In George Couros fantastic book “The Innovator’s Mindset” he has a chapter titled Powerful Learning is First, Technology Second where he writes that “immersing ourselves in the learning process will give us a much better understanding of the opportunities technology bring to our students.” Technology is just a tool and learning is the focus. I would extend this thinking to say that when learning is at a focal point and when the technology “just works”, then the technology can become invisible. I think that is the end goal of IT departments, to make the technology just work and it is our job to make it invisible. So how do we make the use of technology become a non event and just part of our learning?

Our final question for the morning was “So what makes technology go from bad to good in learning”. In groups they brainstormed some big themes to how we can all move forward with our technology use for learning. Together we ended with the need to develop a shared vision that building culture, that acknowledges the challenges and paves a path that we can all collectively explore. What became apparent to me is that a menu of offerings was needed to facilitate the kind of learning that everyone can engage in.  I want our staffs to feel that they are all part of a learning culture that is moving forward that can continuously invite others along the way.




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