After many technology driven initiatives and false hopes of technology as a silver bullet, there is a new mantra in education today: “It’s not about technology, it’s about the learning”. This is the message that has begun to sink in as people recognize that technology alone will not change learning for the majority of students. For me, this message is still missing the point. If you think about it, it’s about both the technology AND the learning and how together we can provide new and better experiences for students. We can’t do this, however, if we continue to focus on technology and learning separately. This means that educational technology directors and curriculum and instruction directors (or whatever the respective titles are in your organization) must work very closely to align their work and make sure it remains aligned all the way to the classroom.
When we have “tech coaches” to support “tech integration”, and of course do “tech trainings”, divorced from curriculum that teachers are expected to teach and the actual learning that we want to see in classrooms, this sends the message to teachers in the classroom is that it most certainly is about the the technology. Especially, when they still have pacing guides and standards they have to meet that they are learning about in different PD sessions, meetings, or trainings (whatever you want to call them) where people rarely talk about technology.
When teachers see and hear about new technology, apps, programs etc. as separate, and offered in addition to all of these other things, many teachers have shared their struggles of trying to figure out how to make work in their classrooms. Often, many push it aside and revert to what they know- which is not making the most use of the resources at their fingertips. If we really want to focus on creating better learning experiences, that’s what we have to prioritize, model, and support teachers to do.
When I have the pleasure of visiting classrooms, I don’t want to see how many iPads are being used, or the newest program all the kids are “engaged” in, I want to see what kids are learning through the opportunities that now exist because of of the technology and the innovative educators that are designing the experiences for students to engage in relevant, deeper learning. This begins with sending the message that learning is the priority and through technology we can access information, connect with people, and create new knowledge and ideas.