Technology is revolutionizing education. The revolution is not merely a result of the addition of appropriate technological advances to traditional classroom activities, but the fact that the embedding of technology is fundamentally changing how both educators and students see their roles within the learning process.
Simply conducting the education business as usual using elaborate technological tools will not help us give students a better education. We can spend thousands of dollars purchasing new technology, but equipment without systemic change is not the answer. We must see this business of educating in a new way, and strategize how we will leverage new technologies to bring change to a system which may not have been meeting its implied objectives even before the digital age.
Technology provides unprecedented access to knowledge on a daily basis for the digitally connected and highly motivated. In terms of education, it presents boundless available, potential, and yet undiscovered possibilities for not only teaching and lifelong learning, but for modeling a level of innovation and flexibility with a return on investment that is critical to our future success.
Technology does not take away the responsibility of educators to educate, neither does it somehow absolve students of the need to learn to learn and make a lifelong commitment to the same. The game may have changed, but now more than ever it must be played with integrity and unswerving commitment to achieving renewed and renovated educational goals by all stakeholders including parents and those who draft policy at the government level.
Right now it is possible for a high school student with the interest, will, and resources to access college-level courses at institutions like Harvard and MIT via the internet, and so push past the material she is learning at school. It is possible for a teacher to keep current with his subject and gain new competence taking courses in the iTunesU. Rather than simply dismissing these individuals as precocious, bright, and making good for themselves only, we need to think about and plan for what that means for our education system. Some of the most innovative development with emerging technologies is taking place at the level of the individual educator showing us that a little effort can go a very long way.
It would be a travesty to allow the current generation to languish in the belief that the most cutting edge technologies are only relevant in their informal, unofficial, and private lives. That when they do seek and access additional educational opportunities, it is outside of a system that has failed to keep up with their needs, and which has not established the relevant channels for cross-fertilization and validation of the knowledge and experience they are gaining. Cloud computing is not just for storing music, mobile phones are not just for teenagers to “keep in touch”, and gaming can be more than just a leisure activity. We might be using and even innovating with what is available today, but if we do it right we will prepare our students for the technology of tomorrow that neither we nor even they might anticipate.