Technological Transition In The Classroom, Meet Culture

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Technological Transition In The Classroom, Meet Culture
“Tech Cocktail” by John Fischer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In the future, learning will be indistinguishable from technology. We live in this future today, only partially. The inevitable stride of more and better technologies in the classroom can take many forms and it’s our duty to ensure a harmonic assimilation. This is the focal point in a recent blog essay by Schoology’s Sean Coffron, with key insight for open LMS practitioners alike.

To the already confrontational nature of the relationship between tech in the classroom and old school teachers, Coffron adds a new one, which he argues is more subtle but also more urgent. It almost sounds like its opposite: An unbridled embrace for tech in the classroom (which still can be attributed to resignation) that leaves key questions about its use to luck of commercial interests.

This landscape, as widespread as it can be, is the concern of many, including Coffron’s subject, in a case where EdTech implementation was “intentionally methodical” and carried over the long term. He covers the Grace E. Metz Middle School of Manassas, Virginia.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the first instance of contention were the teachers. It was obvious that their lessons would be subject to change across the board. Fortunately, the Middle School promoted a healthy culture of ongoing feedback and annual reflection. A trait sorely missing throughout learning organizations today.

But here, past initiatives were not just the prey of quality feedback and decisive improvement. Every past attempt is dutifully kept on record, and brought in context when needed. This encourages a broader perspective and a narrative of continuous enhancement, which primes faculty members for new things, possibly bolder ones.

The next item in the process of cultural shift, namely the students, came with hurdled of its own. The layer of objective benefits that a new tech can provide contends with a layer of personal enjoyment. This encompasses elements like sense of achievement, flow or outright entertainment. In another stroke of luck, Grace had already an ace under its sleeve: A student computer club. Creating a dialogue between them and teachers offered valuable insight about reaching out to students, so they buy into the premise of technological embrace. It was also an insight intersecting the current field of research known as “Technology Acceptance,” to which its proposed model, TAM, owes its name.

Among the many insights to take with from Coffron’s story, there is one that serves as the best summary. The ideal scenario for Educational Technologies is not merely one where it replaces parts of the learning process, but one that signals a new step forward, offers everyone harder, but more exciting challenges, and hints at new worlds. These above all are the key to justify the pain points of a technological transition.

Read complete details and outcomes of the implementation by Grace E. Metz Middle School, including hardware, software and supporting initiatives in “Using Computers in the Classroom: One School’s Journey from Labs to Laps” at schoology.com/blog.


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