Thursday, June 14, 2012

The “Look” of Technology in Teaching and Learning

Developing Education and Skills with Technology


http://destech101.blogspot.com

The "Look" of Technology in Teaching and Learning

The average adult typically identifies technology with checking their email, or looking up something on the internet. As educators this thought process often transfers over into our instructional practices. We are generally less knowledgeable and far more resistant to innovation and change, than the younger generation. This puts us at a disadvantage since technology has virtually changed every aspect of daily lives.  The way that the world travels, conducts business, exchanges information, and communicates is ever evolving for everyone.  Therefore the continual development for us as teachers must include integrating technology.

Often integrating technology is seen as an extra task added to the already overwhelming demands of classroom instructors. Nevertheless, most classroom and school management systems enable administrative, record keeping and reporting processes to be far more fluid and consume less time. This extra time can be devoted to advancing our craft. In fact, the word technology means the study of art, a skill or a craft as it comes from the Greek word technología.  It also encompasses utilizing information, tools, systems or methods to solve problems, achieve goals, or perform specific functions. So when you look at it, any process of creating, building, constructing and exchanging knowledge can be executed, enhanced, or transferred through or with technological means. With that being said, what does this integration of technology look like in a classroom or school?

Apart from the numerous professional learning and development opportunities that technology can enrich and support (also the topic of my next blog), instructional technology looks like many things. It's teachers using multimedia to enhance student learning experiences. It is also biology or mechanical engineering students collaboratively performing dissections or building 3-D models with interactive simulations. It’s the non -native speaker benefitting from individualized instruction aimed at advancing English language speaking and listening proficiency; and it’s the kids with learning differences using assistive software to improve their  comprehension capabilities.

A while back, I saw this documentary on HBO called “I can’t do this, but I CAN do that.” The focus  of the film was on children labeled as having learning disabilities and their families. In the broadcast, there were several occasions in which the students or different facilitators used different types of specialized software and devices, to complete assignments and clarify instruction.  During one of those instances, a 12 year old boy  was talking about some of his academic challenges.  He did not consider himself to be disabled, and actually didn't like when others identified him in that manner. In fact,at one point in the taping he stated “…if people think you have a disorder, their expectations drop tremendously… and I can do better than that” (see video/synopsis).


When I heard that young man's words, I couldn't help but think about how powerful and  true  his statement was. I also reflected on how just a few decades ago, his story  would probably have been quite different. However because of continual technological advances, the learning process and opportunities to achieve has opened up for so many like never before. 

One of my most favorite quotes of all time is by Nelson Mandela. It reads: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Having worked with learning institutions in other countries, I truly appreciate this notion and find that knowledge truly has a unique capacity to transform lives. When wisdom is lacking or deficient, repressive and unjust practices are more easily sustained. While those who cultivate a more advanced understanding exercise critical thinking and act with courage, compassion, respect and integrity. 


No doubt most of us chose to become educators because we wanted to make a difference. This task continues to be difficult as new challenges arise daily. Nonetheless, as much as Mr. Mandela attests to the power of education, I equally believe that technology shall continue to be a catalyst in the process.

How will you change the world today?



6 comments:

Aurora said...

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Unknown said...

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@phani said...

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