Author – Kelly Walsh – CIO at The College of Westchester
As with many other industries and employment sectors, technology has a more meaningful, richer relationship with education today than ever before. While there is still plenty of room for improvement (heck, if we’re not failing, we’re not trying right), there are plenty of successes to talk about. Here are some of the ways that technology is changing teaching and learning in a positive way, increasing engagement, and enhancing learning outcomes.
1. It’s Flipping it on its Head
One of the most exciting developments in education in recent years has been the grassroots movement commonly referred to as the “flipped classroom”. Teachers like Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann helped to pioneer the technology-enabled concept in the 2000’s and in the years since, flipped teaching and learning have really taken off. There are news stories about schools and teachers moving to flipped instruction every week, and for the second year in a row, the widely recognized and respected annual report from New Media Horizons and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative cites the Flipped Classroom as being ready for widespread adoption in the “0 to 1 year” time frame!
2. It’s Increasing Student Engagement and Success
When educators talk about integrating technology in education, a frequently cited goal is to increase student engagement in order to enhance learning outcomes. Technology offers so many possibilities for getting students more involved in their own learning.
Here are a few articles that discuss a variety of technology-enabled instructional approaches and how they have been shown to increase engagement and improve learning outcomes.
3. It’s enabling OPEN & FREE textbooks – welcome to OER
One of the many exciting developments made possible by today’s technology is the ease with which content can be shared! Add to this the fact that we all know that textbook costs have gotten out of hand, and throw in the concept of “open source”, and it’s not surprising to discover that various consortiums have evolved to create and deliver Open Educational Resources. These include the likes of OpenStax, the OER Commons, the K-12 OER Collaborative, and MERLOT. OER is poised to have a big impact!
4. It’s Created Unprecedented Opportunities for Personal Learning
Individualized or personalized learning has been a much desired goal in education since as far back as the early 1900’s (see the ‘History’ section in this Wikipedia entry to learn more). Only recently, however, has the availability of modern computer technologies made it a practical, achievable reality. Constructs like the flipped classroom have empowered teachers to make more time in the classroom available for differentiation. Another enabler of personalized learning that is quickly coming into its own is Adaptive Learning … solutions like Moby Max for many K-8 Common Core subjects, or the LeaP platform integrated into D2L’s Brightspace LMS, are making Adaptive Learning via individualized learning paths a reality in many schools.
5. It’s Made Professional Development for Educators More Available and Affordable Than Ever
In so many ways, today’s information and communication technologies have made professional development opportunities more readily available and more affordable than ever before. Prior to the existence of the always-on Internet, PD was limited to in-person and onsite … you either had to go somewhere or someone had to come to you. The only other options were magazines, converse with colleagues, and the slowly yet-to-mature idea of distance-learning, but these all had significant limitations in contrast to the opportunities we have today.
Today, the evolution of highly mobile access and social networks had made PD an essentially constant, ongoing activity. Educators can tap into a vast array of quality resources at their disposal … subscribe to blog feeds, tap into social media channels, search out web sites and other content, watch vodcasts … the list of resources just keeps growing. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), paid workshops and courses, Personal Learning Networks, and more … at our fingertips, and many of these can be accessed from just about anywhere, anytime! Professional development opportunities have never been more accessible.
As technology continues to evolve, the world of education will continue to evolve as well, creating a more advanced and enhanced user experience. Expect this list to grow.