What Part Does Technology Have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part III)

This blog post is the third in a series concerning technology in education stemming from the Jean Piaget Society Conference I attended in June. The theme of this year’s conference was “Technology and Human Development.” It provided a venue to discuss technology through a variety of different academic disciplines and research frames of reference all centered around the theory of constructivism.

In the last several decades, digital technology has become a central part of the discussion within education. A historical inclusive reference on technology is Paul Saettler’s book, The Evolution of American Educational Technology (1990). Since this book was published in 1990, the landscape has drastically changed regarding technology and our personal interaction regarding its use. With the exponential change in technology has come enormous frustration and anxiety among teachers regarding the learning and use of technology in the classroom. The world of technology is constantly changing and using it efficiently, effectively, and confidently is always a difficult task for a teacher to master.

So, what is the future of educational technology in the classroom? How do we train teachers to be effective digital natives? How do we deal with the continual problem of technology inequality across schools and districts? My contention is that whatever “device” a teacher is trained on in college or in their pre-service program, it will soon be replaced by some other new gadget within a few years. Instead of teaching or learning on a specific device, therefore, I believe that we should focus on the idea of universal access and utilizing the cloud for social learning in the classroom. The future of educational technology is not about one specific device, but it is about access to global information and global connectivity. The continual IT battle school districts’ fight concerning updated software installation, file storage, and servers is almost over. The battle is now shifting toward an equitable, robust infrastructure. I believe the future of educational technology will be all about equity and access to both the cloud and fast, reliable internet connectivity instead of devices. With the cloud, we all have access to global information and “big data,” and it is changing the way we all learn in the classroom. From online homework, instant content access, blended classrooms, and even flipped learning, the cloud has already begun to change the educational landscape.

The one thing we can depend on when it comes to educational technology is that change will be continuous and inevitable. As teachers, it is difficult to imagine what our classrooms will look like 20 years from now. But what about 5 years from now? In the final installment of this blog series (part IV), I will try and look ahead and examine the implications of the next level of technological advancements in the classroom.

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