4 Arguments for Technology Infusion in Schools

Posted
9/7/2016
Jon Konen
School Principal
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You ever been in argument with someone about education, and what we should be or should not being doing? It's not hard to argue against someone who believes students should be technology free in schools. We see technology in almost all jobs and every aspect of our lives. Recently, on the second day of school we were without electricity for over two hours. I was very pleased to see both staff and students doing creative activities, discussions, read a-louds, and more in the dark. Good instruction is that, good instruction! The argument comes when we say that technology infusion is just as important as these activities that can be done in the dark! I recently had this discussion with a colleague. I found myself wondering how someone could even argue against technology…but his argument was valid, "Good instruction is good instruction!" Here are my four best arguments that I could surmise, do you have more?

1950's vs. 2010's, Times Have Changed, Why Haven't We?

An overhead projector at one time was state of the art technology. You could project information onto a large surface for all students to see. This revolutionized teaching. In fact, document cameras now can do the same thing…the technology may look a little different, but the instructional strategy used by teachers may be pretty close to the same. Other technology that teachers may have at their disposal does show major differences from the 1950's: Web 2.0 tools, new Web 3.0 tools, Swivel, Google Cardboard, Skype, Facetime, Facebook Live, Periscope, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat to name a few. In fact, the most creative and innovative teachers are still trying to play catch-up and figure out how to successfully use this newest technology in classrooms. The multitude of new devices, social media apps, and programs are rapidly growing to the point where teachers are afraid to learn something new for fear of it being gone in a few months. Sadly, many teachers don't even try. So, shouldn't we be at least experimenting with this technology in our classroom?

Students Have Changed, Why Haven't We?

In the 1980's many of my friends had a party-line phone number at their homes. This specialized phone number allowed many of my friends to talk on their phones (many who had the first push button phones). Some phone lines were able to split the line so they could add more callers on all at once. I was so jealous. While they could talk to many people at once, I was still using my dial up phones in our house. My parents finally did purchase a 20-foot long cord while I was in high school so I could go into my room instead of having my conversations out in the kitchen in front of them. For me, this changed everything in my social life. My wife and I recently joked with our sophomore son when we found out he had 330,000 snapchats in a little over a year since we allowed him to have the app! His generation can all be in the same room, next to each other, and not talk for hours other than the occasional, "you gotta see this…!" They repeatedly keep showing each other short videos, posts from friends, funny memes, and more! Students have changed how they communicate, how they access information, and how they have fun. So, shouldn't we be changing how we teach?

All Fields Have Continued to Adapt, Adopt, and Assimilate Technology….Why Not Education?

When Web 2.0 became more accessible and usable for companies, and explosion began. Many 2.0 tools were replacing low entry-level jobs. What was once done by a person is now automated. We haven't seen anything yet…Web 3.0 will start to take over mid-level jobs and so much more. Listening to Dr. Bill Daggett, Founder and Chairman of the International Center for Leadership in Education, reconfirmed my thoughts on how far we are behind in education. He said all fields and industries have taken the challenge and are finding ways to use these 2.0 and now 3.0 tools to their advantage. He speaks of Web 3.0 being the "artificial intelligence" revolution. Cars are currently be equipped to detect upcoming pot holes and adjust the ride so you don't feel them. Doctors are using virtual tools to practice impossible surgeries without even cutting anything. Dr. Daggett profoundly states that there are two domains that remain behind, without much substantial change, "education and government." In the next couple years, Google will soon be the largest provider of educational resources. We need to heed this warning signs, as public education may soon no longer be the main providers of education and this competition may provide education cheaper. He continued by telling us that "schools are merely museums" right now. We can walk down the hallways much like a museum, seeing old technology. I will always believe that a human connects better with kids, and we can teach more effectively than anything "artificial." I am just saying, private schools are going to be more enticing for some parents who ride the fence on public education. We, public educators, can do much better. Will we step up and infuse technology with our students?

Coding - "It's What's for Dinner!

The amount of Web 2.0, and soon to be Web 3.0, tools our world will create will change how we live, what we buy, who we hang out with, and how we have fun. The amount of jobs that require coding will multiply exponentially in the next decade. We must start building a workforce that can sustain this change or we will forsake these positions to other countries. Coding should be an option in all schools starting in elementary grades. Will we change our technology curriculum and will coding be a part of what we do every day?

Each of these arguments have their pros and cons on society, and specifically on our students in education. You can argue that good instruction in the 1950's would be good instruction in 2010's, but I argue that isn't true or prudent. We can't look the other way as technology in all other work domains change and we chose to remain stagnant with our instruction. We know our kids are different, and subsequently, the way our teachers instruct must also be different. Change is tough for so many, but when we have technology staring at us in our face…we cannot withhold the infusion into how we teach!

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Jon Konen

Jon Konen is a father, husband, K-6 elementary principal, and freelance writer in Great Falls, Montana. He has taught most all grade levels K-6, and has been a K-12 principal of a rural school. As a 5th grade teacher in 2010, he won the Presidential Award for Elementary Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST). As a principal, his school won the 2012 Blue Ribbon Award. In 2018, he won the National Distinguished Principal Award (NDP). He is the author of two guides, An Educator's Guide to Combat Bullying & Bully Prevention and Teacher Evaluation: A Transition Guide to Exemplary Performance. He has authored a children's picture book that will be released in October, 2018 titled, Principal Reads and Benjamin's Visit to the Office…Not the First!
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