Hello 2017! We Need to Talk …
2017 will mark the 9th year of writing and sharing here on EmergingEdTech. Wow. I've learned so much over the years since I first joined The College of Westchester and embarked on this journey. Of course, it was all made possible by you – the reader, so thank you so much for reading, sharing, commenting and enabling us all to learn from each other.
As we head off into yet another brave a new year, I find myself reflecting on the topics I want to focus on here on the site. Following are some of the things that I want to look for opportunities to explore and learn more about. How about you? What do you want to know more about when it comes to the relationship between the continuously evolving world of technology and the slower to change world of education? Please drop a comment and share.
- Security & Privacy Awareness: This has not been a focal topic here before, but I believe it should be now. Wearing my CIO hat certainly influences this thinking, but there are numerous things going on in the world of technology that are making better awareness of privacy implications and security vulnerabilities a real concern. We've been giving away an incredible amount of data about our personal lives through our smartphones for a few years now, but with the explosive growth of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, society is on the brink of exponentially increasing this data, and the potential access it offers to hackers with bad intentions. We really need to step back and think about this a little more, and we need to hold companies accountable for building robust security into these devices. I've also been influenced to encourage increased awareness through film pieces like Black Mirror and Zero Days.
- Empowering Student-Centered Learning: Of course, improving learning outcomes remains the primary focus of the site, and over the years, I've come to see the potential to move to a more student-centered experience as a huge enabler of improved outcomes. Besides, if we aren't here for the students, then what we're doing is self-serving, and the students we serve deserve better than that. This last fall, as I participated in the annual rite of getting to know my daughter's new teachers, one teacher failed to look the parents in the eyes as she discussed how she would be working with our kids. This was a red flag to me, and sure enough, this teacher ended up being very disconnected and impersonal with her students. That any student should be treated like cattle being herded through the school day by teachers like this really gets under my skin. That sort of approach is diametrically opposed to the sort of student-centered learning I hope to see continuing to grow in our schools.
- Meaningful uses of EdTech: I started 2016 with this theme, and want to keep returning to it. It is too easy to simply grasp at various tools and techniques and mistake doing so for worthwhile technology integration. We need to be more thoughtful and focused in our efforts to use technology in a meaningful way in our classrooms and courses. Just because we can doesn't always mean we should, and when we do, it should provide benefits (and not just leave us dangling at the bottom of the SAMR scale).
- Leveraging the Science of Learning: Over the last year, when vendors reach out to me to suggest that I check out their products and write a post about them, I often challenge them with this question: how did they use learning science to develop, test, and improve their product? I also encourage them to tell their own story, in a compelling way, sharing how they connected with teachers to create their tool or service. We need to push those in the edtech market space to bring brain science to bear on product development. We also need to look for opportunities to understand this better ourselves and put it to use in our classrooms. One example I am a bit fascinated by is the growing body of research that indicates that we learn more effectively when we move our bodies, which, of course, runs very contrary to practice in so many of our schools, where students are often expected to sit through most of their classes with few breaks or opportunities to engage the body-mind-learning relationship.
- Fun coding applications and small codable ‘robots' (and the ways coding relates to different academic subject areas and teaches an array of skills): I believe that simple coding is both easier, and more useful, than many educators realize. I really want to explore this further, but my initial attempts to get feedback from teachers using these tools received little feedback. If you are reading this and you have used any of these types of coding apps or tools in your classroom, I'd love to hear more about it (reach out via the Contact form).
- Emerging Technologies and Educational Constructs: Of course, emerging technologies and how they relate to teaching and learning will always be a focus on the site. Over the last year or two we've been exploring things like microcredentials and the dis-aggregation of the degree, the emergence of Blockchain technology, the growth of augmented and virtual reality applications in the classroom, and so much more. We'll certainly continue to keep an eye out for these types of changes and emerging technologies and share stories about them.
- “Healthy Homework”: Over this last year, I've seen an excess of homework have a clearly negative impact on my daughter, who is in 8th grade and in numerous honors classes, and who has maintained a 98 to 99 average for years. She is no slacker, but now she has to stay up to 11 PM or later many nights to complete the burdensome volume of homework she is assigned (little of which conforms to these guidelines). She is lucky to get 6 hours of sleep, which is clearly deleterious to her learning and her emotional state. Enough already! This is definitely something I am going to be learning more about and writing about here over the coming year.
Yes, that's quite a few different topics, but they are all things I am highly interested in here at the start of 2017.
But what did I miss that is important to you? I'd love to hear about other important topics that you think I should also consider exploring, writing, and publishing content about. Of course, I'd also welcome feedback on the topics I've listed above. Thanks in advance for sharing what motivates you!