Technology In Education: Software is the New Hardware

The paradigm in education has shifted.  Web-based technology, apps and the devices that run them are the driving force behind the shift. Early adopters recognized this shift and "got on board" in spirit and then, in fact, more than 6 years ago when 'Web 2.0' became a reality. Many educators have embraced learning networks, blogging, wikis, i-Pads and have used these to learn, create, collaborate and teach.  And yet, so many more educators have not taken steps to embrace the new realities and opportunities that emerging technologies represent.

Administrators and teachers who have a fixed definition of technology have also been slow to adopt anything new and may even be skeptical of all of the tablets, iPads, cloud-based apps and their potential drain on school bandwidth.  Those in this camp have 'seen it all before'.  Technology to them is stuff.  Technology to them is the Device-the tablet, the computer, the iPad, the Smart Board, the smartphone, etc.. And, to them, the devices will all go the way of dinosaurs soon enough.  Fair enough.   However!  Current technology that is useful in education-for learning and for teaching- is not about the device.  Technology that is useful in education is about the applications that assist teachers in discovering, collating or curating resources. Technology that is useful in education is about the applications that assist students in learning material in multi-dimensional, differentiated and media-rich ways.  Technology that is useful in education is about the networks that allow administrators, teachers and students to learn from and in collaboration with each other.  Technology that is useful in education is cloud-based allowing data and information to be accessed from anywhere, anytime, regardless of what device is used to access that data/information.

Current technologies change how things have always been done in education.  True differentiation is now possible using learning applications that have programmed in multiple levels of concept mastery. Current technologies by their nature allow for student-centered approaches in the classroom. Global collaboration is a possibility cheaply. Relevant Professional Development for Educators is a click away. And the ability to create and publish projects and products that demonstrate learning are exploding.

Some leaders of schools/districts have recognized that the paradigm has shifted permanently in favor of learning/education as other leaders lag behind thinking technology is about stuff that will become obsolete soon enough.  I am willing to bet that those that have embraced this new app-driven, networked learning paradigm have more engaged students.  I am certain that students in those schools/districts are being better prepared for an even more app-driven, cloud-based, networked future regardless of the devices that may be invented to connect to them in the future.

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