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Some Needed Perspective On EdTech Adoptions

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There seems to be little middle ground in the conversation surrounding educational technology resources. The two sides of this debate tend to consist of those who are "all-in" on any new technological resource and those who want no part of any technological tools that may distract their students. As we continue to investigate the latest and greatest edtech creations, and the continued need to put the best possible resources in our schools and classrooms, we need to have thoughtful conversations that bring us together surrounding this sometimes divisive topic.

Interestingly enough two of my favorite bloggers, who both happen to bring a balanced perspective of this conversation, wrote about this topic during the past week. Alfie Kohn and Peter Greene both put forth some great talking points that can help people on opposing sides of the topic of edtech be more reflective before making a decision on a new tech tool that is being recommended for their school or classroom.  Both Kohn and Greene focus on the fact that if we are looking at technology as the answer then we need to take a step back and be sure that we are asking the right questions.

Here are my key takeaways from Kohn's The Overselling of EdTech:

  • "We can't answer the question 'Is tech useful in schools?' until we've grappled with a deeper question: 'What kinds of learning should be taking place in those schools?'"
  • "If we favor an approach by which students actively construct meaning, an interactive process that involves a deep understanding of ideas and emerges from the interests and questions of the learners themselves, well, then we'd be open to the kinds of technology that truly support this kind of inquiry."
  • "But even if ed tech were adopted as thoughtfully as its proponents claim, we're still left with deep reasons to be concerned about the outmoded model of teaching that it helps to preserve -- or at least fails to help us move beyond."

Here are my key takeaways from Greene's Who Is Being Served:

  • "When someone wants to drop some tech on us, it's time to ask some questions, and boy, are there many questions to ask. How do we distinguish between tech that can enhance education and tech that needs to be avoided? I think we can cut to the heart of the matter with one question...Who is being served?"
  • "If the promise of the technology is not to serve the needs of the students, then the conversation should be over."

Both Kohn and Greene boil this semmingly complicated debate down to some simple questions that we should be asking about any new initiative in our schools, whether it is technology-related or not.  

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