Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Next Big Thing is Here...Until the Next Big Thing Gets Here?

Photo by Street matt, Flickr.com
https://www.flickr.com/photos/streetmatt/15083719955/sizes/l
Ever since the hubbub last week with the Apple event, I've been thinking a lot lately about the progression of technology. In case you're unfamiliar with Apple's huge unveiling of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Watch, etc., it's been quite a big deal for Apple. Longer battery life, larger screen size (a LOT larger, in the case of the 6 Plus), an Apple smartwatch? It seems that Apple has finally caught up to what companies like Samsung have been doing all along.

Okay now, this isn't going to be an Apple/Android/PC/Windows/Anything debate in the slightest. But really, why are we so excited about these new devices? So there's a larger screen. There's a new smartwatch on the market. Our technology-centered society gets so excited to embrace these new innovations, even though last-year's model is perfectly fine. Technology progresses so incredibly fast, and it's not likely to slow down.

This got me to thinking; why is education so far behind? The iPhone 6 will officially be available tomorrow, and I know that people are just itching to turn in their iPhone 5s or 5c to get the next thing, which they will undoubtedly trade in when next year's model is released. Meanwhile, our schools are still struggling to integrate the use of laptops or tablets in the classroom. I can't think of any classrooms that utilize smartphones, at least in this area, and a good number of schools that 'have' technology don't use it effectively. What is education doing wrong? Why aren't we staying up to date with technology?

Well, I didn't have the answers to these questions, so naturally, I Googled it. I came up with this blog post on Edutopia that discusses this very topic. I really liked this post because it talks about the TPACK and SAMR models for technology integration, both of which have been presented to me in my classes here at UNI. These models help us to utilize technology to its full potential, but education often appears to be content with hanging out and doing things like they've always done until technology slows down. While things are definitely headed in the right direction, this article says that "the only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it".

So how can we plunge into technology integration if it's constantly changing? The blog post suggests admitting that you're not an expert and that there will be things you don't know! You can set aside some time to learn a new tech tool that you've never used and to be a curious learner. It's also important to be familiar with the standards that you're following, whether they're the Common Core, Iowa Core, or other state or local standards. If you know what standards you need to be meeting, it can be easier to decide what technology to use to help you meet those standards. It's also a great idea to read and interact with those people who are considered experts in the field and ask for their suggestions.

Technology is constantly changing, evolving, and influencing the world we live in. It holds incredible potential to be used in education, if we can take a leap of faith and get away from what we're comfortable with. Although it may be painless to simply do what we've always done, it's going to take a little transitioning, experimenting, and adjusting to finally go with the flow of technology. We've been thinking about technology as "Oh no! Something new came out! But I'm still trying to figure out how to use this old technology!", when we should be thinking "Awesome! Something new came out! How can I use what I've learned from prior technologies, both good and bad, to use this as best as I can?"

What do you think? Can education ever 'catch up' to technology? Have you seen evidence of or used effective technology integration in your classrooms? Please comment and let me know what you think!

Photo by mkhmarketing, Flickr.com
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mkhmarketing/8467704675/sizes/l


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