Ubiquity, Access, & Availability: How EdTech Can Transform Schools, Homes, & Anywhere In Between

August 15, 2017

Source: Jewish Funders Network


To understand and then appreciate technology’s role in our learning and our lives, we need to understand the essence of what technology is and what it allows us to do. When we move beyond brand names and the latest technical features we can see that technology is meant to allow us to increase our production, communication, and give us the ability to interface and interact with the world around us. Why then is education still discussing, and at times even struggling to validate, how technology can transform teaching, learning, and meaningful experiences in both?

Access and availability are still a conversation because we have not yet addressed why technology is critical to successful teaching and learning. Technology's impact on education isn't going to be through the volume of technology present, but how it can shift and redefine the teaching and learning process. Technology is moving forward at a rapid pace in a direction that is mobile, handsfree, and voice responsive. We cannot view education in a different light and not provide students with the same tools that the real world interfaces with everyday. You might not (yet) have a smart lightbulb or Amazon’s Alexa but those days are numbered as companies incorporate these technologies into our everyday experiences whether we like it or not. 15 years ago you would be hard pressed to find a school that didn't offer a keyboarding program. Today, while schools continue to invest hundreds or thousands into keyboarding, technology companies are spending millions to make them obsolete. Education needs to be on the edge of what technology is relevant now, not to jump on the trending bandwagon but be aware of how best to prepare our students for the year 2030 when they begin their professional journeys.

Mobile technology allows us to experience the world around us. It directly impacts our ability to survey, compile, and engage with people, places, and things. So how does this interface with education? Well it depends on your definition of education, and what learning and develop you value. If you value memorization, fill in the blank, note taking, and lecture listening skills, then the purpose and value of technology will be very different than if one values creativity, complex nonlinear problem solving, critical thinking, reflection, and collaboration. Education should and must move beyond the 19th century model. The real world doesn't function this way. While students must master the skill of memorization, documentation, and written communication, those must be components of a larger and more meaningful learning experience. With this in mind we can then look at technology as a tool to connect with others and capture experiences. Only then will technology use becomes authentic and access to it becomes more than justified but a requirement. At this point technology becomes a catalyst to help students acquire skills beyond memorization and essay writing, that will prepare students for the workforce of the future.

Ubiquity, access, and availability of technology tools and resources are vital for students to be prepared for a future that does not yet exist. They need to be introduced to technology as part of their educational growth and development, so that they will see them as tools that will meet their professional success and needs. If we are successful in this, then technology use will be authentic and fulfill its purpose of supporting our students and children in becoming inquisitive, independent, and inspired lifelong learners.

Read the entire article at the Jewish Funders Network.

Updated: Aug. 30, 2017