Over the past 10 years, classroom technology has been transformed – or has it? Bulky, expensive desktop computers have been replaced by mobile, inexpensive devices that are designed to move with students—and some lucky districts and schools have been able to implement one-to-one programs of mobile devices for students. But a focus on purchasing more devices only partially moves our educational systems forward, and we need equal attention on the best practices for the effective use of these devices.
Despite the shift to mobile equipment there is little evidence of a wholesale transformation in the way that US classrooms are operating or a consistent impact on student achievement. This is partly due to the burdens placed on teachers’ time including planning, assessment, analysis of data; as well as a lack of leadership around technology. In addition, these resources have too often been aimed at developing innovative ways for information to be transferred to students. This includes digital textbooks, math practice apps, fancy presentation tools etc. All of these uses may be helpful in increasing student engagement but they do not disrupt the traditional model of teaching and learning – that the teacher knows more than the student and needs to transfer information to the student. No change in the quality or quantity of high tech devices or the nature of these devices will change that.
However, I do believe that the stage is set for a real transformation in teaching with technology over the next ten years – not based on WHAT we use, but rather on HOW we use it. This transformation will consist of a shift from technology being used as a platform for delivering information to students to a platform for students to create knowledge and to develop and hone skills and creativity. This will make technology into a truly powerful classroom tool that enables students to engage in knowledge-creation in meaningful ways.
The good news is that there are a variety of free, easy to use technologies that are already available. This includes multimedia software that allows students to create videos with narration including iMovie and WeVideo and screencasting apps such as Educreations and Explain Everything. Students are also able to use coding to demonstrate learning with kid-friendly applications such as Scratch, Tynker, and Code.org. There are also a variety of presentation platforms that go beyond Powerpoint and allow students to express their creativity while enriching a traditional presentation. Among these are Prezi, a 3 dimensional presentation platform, Projeqt, which embeds live social media streams into slides, and Socrative, a presentation system that enables the student to interact with the students in the class.
All of these existing technologies have the potential to empower students to learn as a component of the process of creating content. Much classroom technology is used to prop up traditional teacher-centered methods of instruction but with a change of pedagogical philosophy, it can instead be used to invert the traditional teacher-student relationship and transform students into creators of knowledge. This true technological revolution in learning will emerge in the next 10 years and continue to strengthen over time.
Read other takes on the biggest educational innovation in the next 10 years here.