Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Balanced Approach to High Tech Instruction

What has become a number of years ago now, I made a career change into teaching.  At that time technology was beginning to make its presence in schools with an expectation of high growth use. We saw the introduction of computer labs and the "computer special" in elementary schools. Middle and high schools introduced computer classes and electives. The instruction consisted of Microsoft Office training and the widespread use of educational software. The outcome was teaching technology tools in isolation of content and software as a supplement.

Fast forward ahead a few years and we found the shift from the computer lab to the classroom. Advancements in wifi, lower cost mobile devices, presentation platforms and cloud-based applications provided opportunities for the technology to move from the lab to the desk. Professional development focused on introducing teachers and students to the tools. Teachers were expected to attend workshops or self direct their own learning towards to mastery of tools.

The evolution continues. Ubiquitous access to technology and general acceptance of the disruptive innovation that technology brings to teaching and learning has shifted the focus from "I am using tool x to how can I individualize,  personalize and differentiate instruction in ways I could not before. In what ways can we develop the skills that allow students to be creators of content and knowledge rather than passive consumers.

As technology initiatives evolve a focus on asynchronous learning, publishing, collaborating, creating and connecting will provide our students with future proof skills, differentiated learning and an excitement connected to their perceived control over there growth.

As we embrace this change and explore the opportunities that are presented with technology it is just as important to recognize that a balanced approach to instruction is best. Recognizing the appropriate mix of instructional strategies including independence and self-directed learning is the new demand on educators. The most successful will be able to identify when and with whom to employ such strategies.