As the world of technology grows, both in size and sophistication, the world of education is realizing its responsibility to embrace current trends and expectations. Innovations in hardware and software, and the easy access of both to children of all ages, have an impact on teachers, students, school budgets and educational goals. These rapid changes also require that educational technology leaders keep up to date and engaged.
Technology for Teachers
Trends in technology affect how and what teachers teach. Trends also impact how teachers assess students, how they collect and manage student data, and how they plan for instruction.
The State Educational Technology Directors Association, or SETDA, is a nonprofit association of educational technology leaders. According to their report titled Navigating the Digital Shift; Broadening Student Learning Opportunities, statewide departments of education are making an "overall shift towards the implementation of digital instructional materials and the opportunity for educators to use digital applications and resources to support student learning."
The increased use of data analytics tools provides teachers the feedback they need to see how students are progressing in real time. According to Richard Culatta, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education, "This will allow teachers to intervene and adjust more quickly when students are struggling to comprehend difficult subjects." Ed Tech Magazine Online reports that the amount of money budgeted and spent on these adaptive learning tools tripled between 2013 and 2017.
Teachers are also taking advantage of advances in technology to share experiences, data and information with other teachers worldwide. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) reports an initiative scheduled for a late 2018 rollout that will "give educators access to a platform where they will share with one another how they use ed-tech products, in what context and provide data about their experiences with the apps."
Technology for Students
Discussions and implementation of one-to-one or "one device for each student" started early in the 21st century. By 2013, 23 percent of teachers reported that each of their students had exclusive use of at least one device. By 2017, that percent had risen to from to 40. The consistent and widespread use of technology by students is here to stay and the potential of these devices to support education multiplies each year.
The video communication and virtual experience is changing the way content consumption and communication are shifting. Applications like Google Expeditions will give individual students and groups the ability to "travel" to and explore together the places they are studying, in situations not available to them locally.
Virtual reality (VR) is also becoming more available and affordable for classroom use.
Students already know how to communicate with technology; they use it daily in their social lives. Similar technologies are showing up in classrooms, enabling students to communicate and collaborate with their classmates and students around the world.
Education expert Matthew Lynch notes, "Data analytics tools in the classroom will also be increasingly used as a way for students to track their own achievement, a powerful motivator. Using the mobile and online technology already in place, students can better track and tailor their academic experiences," writes Lynch.
In the publication, Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education: 2017 National Education Technology Plan Update, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology is clearly committed to the continued increase in the use of technology to support learning. The report sets forth expectations for educational leaders:
- Develop a shared vision for learning with technology and securing the appropriate resources.
- Create a diverse team of stakeholders to develop and communicate a clear set of goals.
- Model a tolerance for risk, and encourage innovation.
- Use technology as a learning tool for both students and teachers.
- Use and understand viable research for the implementation and use of technology.
These expectations are intended to be acknowledged and followed by all leaders at both the district and school levels. It is especially critical that educational technology leaders understand their roles as districts and school expand to include the use of technology in all aspects of both teaching and learning.
In 2017, digital citizenship was at the forefront, as schools focused on making students aware of inaccurate reporting and phishing attempts online. In partnership with ISTE, search-engine giant Google created a game to reinforce healthy and safe online practices for students.
Although safety will always be important to educators in general, in a statement to ISTE, Culatta reports, "This year we think we'll see a shift in the conversation around digital citizenship to focus on encouraging students to harness tech tools to do good in the world and incite change."
What Does This Mean for Educational Technology Leaders?
As the use of technology increases in schools, educational technology leaders will face more than troubleshooting in the computer lab, monitoring fire walls and safeguarding the integrity of districtwide computer hardware. Students and teachers alike are becoming more astute about technology, in general, often able to solve fundamental computing issues in the classroom.
Technology leaders in education, however, will find that they need to be fully involved in how classrooms use devices and programs, staying current in the fast-paced growth of technology. According to Michelle R. Davis, education technology writer for EdWeek, "It was once enough for school and district leaders to surround themselves with people who understood technology, but the leaders themselves didn't necessarily need deep technology know-how. That is changing, some say."
The U.S. Department of Education recognizes the importance of strong leaders in the field of educational technology. "Taking full advantage of technology to transform learning requires strong leadership capable of creating a shared vision of which all members of the community feel a part." A Master of Education in Educational Technology Leadership degree from a prestigious institution like the University of Louisiana Monroe will give you an edge as a leader in technology in every educational setting.
Learn more about the ULM online M.Ed. in Educational Technology Leadership program.
Sources:Future Ready Schools: Take the Future Ready Schools Pledge
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