Teacher of the Year, Adam Bellows says, “if you can do this lesson without technology, that’s great, but if you can do it better with technology, then that is why you use it” (Edutopia, 2012). Bellows is correct identifying the overarching goal of educational technology: to improve teaching and learning. Once upon a time, chalkboards and chalk were the latest technology to be integrated into the traditional classroom. Since then, a plethora of inventions have penetrated their way into classrooms around the global. We can fast forward a couple centuries from the chalkboard to now see personalized devices, interactive displays, and flexible furniture being integrated into learning environments (Buzbee, 2014). This integration occurs because learners can become more efficient and learn deeper with new technology in their learning environments: “With the world literally at their fingertips, today’s students need teachers and administrators to re-envision the role of technology in the classroom” (Blair, 2012).
In this discussion, it is crucial to recognize that technology is just a tool for teachers and students. We can become more efficient with new educational technology, but technology is not an insta-cure. There are two old cliches that come to mind: a tool is only as good as its user and a man is only as good as the tools he has. These paradoxical statements both make rational sense. When a user does not know how to operate or use the tool, the tool, no matter how powerful, loses its value. Conversely, when the necessary tool to perform the task is unavailable to the user, the user, no matter how technically skilled, is stuck. From this perspective, a learning theory for educational technology is developed.
This theory recognizes these two statements. New tools are only as good as the user. Therefore, training and professional development must be constantly provided to educators to continually sharpen their tools. This development must be constant because new technology will continue to iterate to give users better tools to perform their tasks. In the end, Bellows is right. We can do it better with technology. We just have to do it the right way.
A company, like ELB Education, sees the dual role they can play to support the integration of new tools. ELB Education hires former teachers to do just: “EC’s have lived and breathed education and have a firm understanding of what makes a successful classroom. Their expertise in the design and delivery of learning spaces, their knowledge of the tools and technologies that make a difference, and their capabilities in developing effective professional development programs, ensures success time and time again” (ELB, 2018). From technology to furniture, new tools are being created specifically for the classroom, fit for purpose. Students and teachers can greatly benefit if they know how to effectively use these new learning tools. Fundamentally, this educational theory is grounded in the belief that new technology will maximize the precious time teachers and students share together.
Blair, N. (January 01, 2012). Technology Integration for the “New” 21st Century Learner. Principal, 91, 3, 8-11.
Buzbee, L. (2014). Blackboard: A personal history of the classroom. Minneapolis, MN: Graywolf Press.
Edutopia. (2012). An Introduction to Technology Integration. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=43&v=d59eG1_Tt-Q
ELB. (2018). Retrieved from: https://www.elbeducation.com/education-team
Note: This blog serves as Ben Arnold’s Vision Statement for ED TECH 541 – Integrating Technology into Classroom Curriculum.