Sunday, December 7, 2014

Why I'm excited about tech in education

I'm excited about tech in education for seven reasons: the power of tech in collaboration, communication, contribution, augmentation, facilitation, automation, and foundation.

Collaboration - With Google Docs, collaboration is amazing, and students LOVE it. The first time they see their classmates' colored cursors moving across the screen, they get excited, and for good reason. This kind of real-time, parallel-writing collaboration has never been possible before.

Communication - We live in amazing times. Since when can I send a quick message to my favorite author and get a reply? And since when can a teenager instantly publish her work to THE WHOLE WORLD? #awesome

Contribution - Did I mention making a global contribution with 140 characters and the click of a mouse? Link that Tweet to an original video, animation, or essay, and the stand back, because you may just start a #revolution.

Augmentation - We may not have robotic exoskeletons or neural implants yet, but the only thing between our brains and the internet's 4 zettabytes of information is a mouse and a screen. And for students with dysgraphia or short term memory problems, or who can't speak, technology levels the playing field.

Facilitation - Differentiation in a traditional classroom is hard. try delivering 4 different mini-lectures to 20 different students, all at the same time. But with online learning management systems like Moodle and Google Classroom, es muy facile. And have you used pivot tables yet? Data analysis is essential in our (finally) increasingly clinical discipline, and now we all have powerful tools at our fingertips.

Automation - One of my favorite things about Moodle is it's quizzing capabilities. There's nothing like giving students instant feedback after a formative assessment. And messaging an entire class? Easy. Checking for plagiarism? Easy with Google. Even easier with

Foundation - Here's where it gets really exciting, because every time we develop a new technology, it's like developing a new skill. Each new tech leads to more possibilities. It's like a tree, where each new development is like a bud, forming the foundation for more branches. Each new skill is a foundation for new skills. Just as there wasn't much need for civil engineers in primitive societies, there was no need for genetic engineers before the discovery of DNA, and there's no need for long division today, when many students are taking calculus in high school. Each new technology is a platform. And who knows what new abilities are being built on today's technologies?  Imagine what's being built on the internet as we speak?

Technology is not about new gadgets (or apps) for the sake of new gadgets or apps (as cool as they are). It's about making old things easier and new things possible. It's about the human drive to explore, to improve ourselves and our lives. It's about collaboration, communication, contribution, augmentation, facilitation, automation, and a foundation for whatever's next for us.

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