“Each time I sit down to write a story about using technology in education, I hear the same sentiment echoed by almost everyone I talk to—that technology, when used correctly, has the potential to transform and deepen learning by allowing teachers and students to pursue otherwise unfeasible opportunities. This rang especially true in the stories I covered for this issue of Digital Directions. Harnessing digital games for science education allows students to break down and visualize scientific concepts and processes that are invisible to the naked eye. And incorporating e-portfolios into student learning, when implemented thoroughly, provides an opportunity for deeper and more ongoing reflection of the learning process, advocates say. It’s not about using technology just to use technology, I keep hearing, but using it to learn in new and unexpected ways that fully harness its potential.”
“It was heartening for me to find out, through reporting for this issue’s cover story, that many school leaders are thinking outside the box when determining what skills they want their students to have. Yes, they’re focused on the standardized-test scores that schools are still most often judged by, but many are also saying they want more than that for their students. They want them to learn how to work collaboratively, focus on problem-solving, think creatively, and develop a passion for ideas that goes beyond test scores. Several of the education leaders I interviewed already had high test scores in their districts, but they chose to take chances on putting new technologies and methods in place that could have resulted in a temporary drop in standardized measures of achievement. The opposite often occurred. The fact that they took risks to get better raises questions about what truly defines good 21st-century school leadership.”
“So what’s the best way to innovate? Is it to seize upon the excitement of ‘the next big thing’ before knowing all the ramifications, using trial and error to iron out the kinks? Or is it to copy proven methods from other fields, and then tailor them to specific needs? My reporting for this issue of Digital Directions leads me to believe that the answer is a frustratingly simple one: It depends. Considering the enthusiasm about the release of Apple’s iPad, it would’ve been foolish for educators not to try to ride that wave toward more technology integration. On the other hand, the reservations teachers may have to being videotaped while teaching are an understandable reason to proceed slowly with a new video-evaluation and professional-development tool. In the end, you can only innovate with a method you trust. And whether it’s fair or not, some methods will always be more easily trusted than others.”
Vol. 04, Issue 03, Page 10Published in Print: June 15, 2011, as DD Writers
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