This is one of four posts encompassing my digital learning mission statement and guiding principles. They are work in progress and I would love your feedback.
Constantly learning about new digital technologies and evaluating–with community participation–for effective and appropriate implementation.
Learning is never finished. It is a constant process. This isn’t so much about reading all the tech blogs about the latest and greatest upcoming rather it is about understanding that technology changes. It is important to stay apprised of how those changes may impact education. For example, while the incremental changes in Apple’s yearly iPad releases may be interesting, it is more important to my mission to develop an evolving understanding about how the iPad in general can impact education and what apps are helpful now.
To learn about how tools can impact higher education teaching and learning we must be connected to larger conversations and networks. For example, MERLOT is one repository of educational resources with an active contributing community. However, there is a need to provide a more robust educational technology reviewing community or re-engineer MERLOT’s current rubric for educational resources. In addition, annual conferences and their resources are helpful to gain insightful information including: EDUCAUSE, Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium, regional groups such as NWACC instructional technologist roundtable, and Northwest Managers of Educational Technology (NWMET).
I am speaking about a specific area of technology, digital. It is important to note I didn’t say educational digital technologies. We need to evaluate how digital technology may impact education and therefore become an educational technology. While we might not be on the forefront of digital technology exploration and implementation, we are on the forefront of learning how we can implement digital technology for educational needs.
Evaluate–with community participation
Digital tools must be evaluated for their effectiveness. We cannot just implement a new cool tool because we think it will revolutionize education. A large part of the process is creating community to help evaluate the digital technologies for educational purposes. The community should be broad reaching and include specialists–which will help with when a particular tool may be helpful for a subset of disciplines. This community should ask questions and pilot and assess tools together. This process helps to gather buy-in and create space for champions to emerge.
Finally, it is very important to implement well. Just because a great and helpful educational technology exists and should be used doesn’t mean it will help people if poorly executed. For example a recent New York Times article captures a number of technologies that just didn’t quite make it because of poor execution, unattainable promise, there wasn’t a need, or a competing technology capulted ahead. I believe there should be adequate training available and resources to help people. This includes understanding that people have different needs and abilities to learn new technologies and the implementation should be flexible while following a steady and realistic pace. A pace that allows for people to hop on board without needing to run. Furthermore, implementation also recognizes not everyone has the same access to educational technology. This requires awareness and action around areas of social justice advocating for both acess to the tools themselves and the education to use the tools well.