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Don’t plan for technology; plan for learning

You never know how someone will react when you suggest that they junk their title and replace it with a new one that leads to a different focus of work—not to mention the confusion this could cause across the faculty, or the possible political tension it might generate.

I was about to suggest that the title “Director of Educational Technology” was too narrow for the scope of the work that needed to be accomplished to improve learning for students at this highly successful International School in Asia where I was consulting.   The traditional title, which focused on the tools themselves, did not convey the complexity of the problem to be solved.

Even if all teachers learned how to use all of the available tools—a nearly impossible and hugely time-consuming task—this might not lead to improved learning. I have watched students in laptop schools sitting in rows, taking notes on their machines from a teacher who is giving a decade-old lecture on an interactive whiteboard. While this kind of implementation might be deemed a success in terms of the technical adoption, it’s nothing more than the same script with new tools—and we shouldn’t expect any different results. There has to be more to this massive investment than introducing new tools, only to end up with same work.

(Next page: Learning Design, explained)

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  1. SweetXOGrannie

    April 16, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Not a practical design. In-school “committees” just mean more work for the teachers. Inviting them, on a district-wide level, to participate in planning committees that would later present their recommendations to teachers who voluntarily attend workshops and/or conferences might work… especially if the committee members were paid for their time, the training and conferences were free and also had some sort of financial incentive as well.

  2. pslev8

    April 17, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    To some degree, I agree with SweetXOGrannie. Teachers I work with are wary of “invitations” to join more work groups without compensation. We’re doing exactly what Alan is criticizing with unenviable results. This article sums up the current problem with ed tech…now how to move beyond with overburdened staff and no funds to make it work.

  3. tb0830

    April 20, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    We seem to place all of the pressure and burden of transformation for teachers on school districts for professional development. It seems to me there should be some rigorous coursework in undergrad education programs at the college level to prepare teachers on how to use technology in the design for learning. Stop with the “become a teacher in 18 months” programs and allow these undergrads the time and coursework necessary to be prepared for their profession, much like doctors and lawyers.

  4. jlscheffer

    April 20, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Amazing post. Focus is on what needs to change in schools to benefit the students of today. Yes, this may mean work for teachers, but professional educators who are committed to student success are willing to do whatever it takes to change school culture. Staying current in the professional is a responsibility and an expectation.

  5. waldy

    June 25, 2013 at 9:21 am

    I agree 100% with Alan. Learning and appropriate learning strategies must change- children must be more actively involved in their learnings- they should become more creative and less dependent on teachers for answers- then the application of technology will surely come to its right