Do you really believe technology can transform education?

I’m asking because I recently asked myself this question.

Do I really (truly) believe in the power of technology to transform education?

It’s easy to come back with a quick “of course I do” answer, yet I’m not sure that is the case for everyone.

A recent report in the Boston Globe points to a study conducted by the “Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development”, in which technology use in schools is being linked to lower levels of achievement:

Laptops, tablets, and similar devices are ever more prevalent in today’s classrooms. Yet greater availability and use of technology at school doesn’t necessarily lead to better educational outcomes, a recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows.

The report, which included data on nearly 60 countries, examined students’ computer use at home and in school as well as their performance on written and digital tests. It found that while students who use computers moderately at school have somewhat better outcomes than those who don’t use them at all, those who use them very frequently tend to do significantly worse, even after accounting for students’ and schools’ socioeconomic status.

As a proponent of technology use in schools, this is again one of those times where I have to take a hard look at the impact technology integration has for our students and their learning.

A few things jump out at me when I read this report, specifically the measures being used to gauge student achievement. They used data from 60 countries to examine performance on written and digital tests.

Tests.

This is not a new problem. I don’t think many people would argue that technology infused into our schools helps to increase test scores. Yet, this is the measure they have chosen to use and so it must be addressed.

I wonder if one of the measurements was a research project how the scores would change?

I wonder if one of the measurements was based on authentic learning tasks and assessments how the scores would change?

I wonder if one of the measurements was based on engagement and personal connection to the material how the scores would change?

I wonder if one of the measurements was based on personalization of learning tasks how the scores would change?

I asked myself this question and came up with an answer that is completely biased and based on my own experiences:

Technology has transformed my own personal learning.

 

I am able to learn faster and deeper because of my 24/7 access to technology. I don’t have to worry as much about recall and facts because I have access to all of that information in my pocket. I am able to learn how to create a WordPress website through online tutorials, video guides, Skype conversations, and trial and error because I have this access.

And when I think about my job as a teacher and now as an administrator I came up with a similar answer:

Technology has transformed how I could teach, how my students learned, and how I am able to lead.

 

And so I look at these results with open eyes and a humble mindset. There is no way my students would have ever had the opportunity to collaborate with global peers unless they had technology. There is no way I would have given my students the opportunity of choice and inquiry-based learning unless I had an online PLN to push me, and great online resources to read and guide me.

Technology may or may not improve test scores. But then again, I’m not so sure test scores have a correlation to what a student is going to achieve in life and how well they’ll be able to prepare themselves for anything.

That’s what I care about, and that’s why I still answer a resounding YES when asked this question (especially when I ask myself)!

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  • Jill Canillas Daley says:

    I agree, technology has made me more cognizant of my learning and HOW I teach. It breaks barriers for my rural school enabling students to connect, communicate, and collaborate with others. This creates a climate of understanding and empathy. It also makes me excited to learn and reach students in ways that remove me from center stage and allow for kids to become teachers. Perhaps we begin to measure the results when these students enter the workforce -since technology does allow us a better way to prepare them for that in my opinion. Great post, thanks for sharing.

    • AJ Juliani says:

      Jill, thanks so much for sharing about your experience in a rural school! I also love that you mention empathy. It is one of key elements that we should be focusing on, yet forget to mention in most of our “studies” that talk about impact. Thanks for reminding one more time of what is important!

  • Technology has certainly increase the speed of learning, because of the never ending changes to technology it is hard to keep up. Learning is an on going process. 🙂

    One thing that is also important is that people balance themselves between technology and a little bit of old fashion outdoor activities or going to the library. I am grateful, that my kids balance very well… they do quite a few outdoor activities and we play board games, etc. But, are excellent when it comes to technology.

    Very well written post A J.

  • […] Do you really believe technology can transform education? – A.J. Juliani […]

  • Yan says:

    Of course modern technology has changed the learning process. First of all, the speed of information exchange.

  • John Turner says:

    So true
    Digital Technology has transformed personal learning (everything from access and approaches to information, to personal publishing opportunities, with digital-based meta-cognitive feedback systems driving this and so much more).
    But as yet nothing has happened to education as a societal system.
    We all too often confuse the two (learning and education) and fall back on personal beliefs.
    Appreciate the post.
    John

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