The Balance of Tech Integration and Human Connectedness
Technology is the limitless potential of tomorrow and the positive reality of today. But is your school “Future Ready?” and what are the obstacles you face in getting there?
The Future Ready Schools initiative is a USA wide effort to help school districts maximize digital learning opportunities. Technology, which has long advanced other Industries, has gained significant momentum within Education. Schools are adapting tablets, digital tools, and software to help solve challenges unique to their environment. There are also Network Infrastructure updates happening to accommodate these digital possibilities.
Technology truly has the opportunity to transform the classroom into a place of personalized learning and student success. There is little question in the direction Education is heading, but there are many obstacles to achieving that tidy balance between tech integration for advancement and student connectedness.
Daniel Coghlan is a second grade teacher in British Columbia, Canada, and he takes a keen interest in what his classroom is going to look like as his school becomes ‘future ready.’ “Tech is already integrated into most aspects of daily life, so keeping it out of the classroom is unnatural,” Coghlan says.
The Digitization of the World is underway and Industries across the board will have technology weaved throughout their business model, whether traditional to their roots or not. Future jobs will be technology based. It’s time for education to catch up to the pace of the future. So what needs to be done?
- Integrating tech into the education system first means transforming our entire traditional pedagogy. Teachers and educators first need to “buy in.” A strategy must be defined to outline the intended future end state for students, with how specific technology will achieve it.
- Next there is the obvious challenge of the acquisition and allocation of robust resources to properly implement a program such as this. It’s not enough to buy an iPad for every student for example. Teachers need to understand the technology potential and then transition their curriculum. For better or for worse, this could be a slippery slope careening toward an overhaul to the entire education system and how children are taught.
- Next, educators must carefully consider what needs to be in place to ensure equitable access to technology, both on a school level as well as on a student level. Coghlan feels that “classrooms need to reflect the world we want to prepare our students for.”
The emergency response protocol at Coghlan’s school requires parents to have high speed internet, a computer and basic digital literacy to log in to the system and update their student’s information and attendance. But not all families have these resources.
Coghlan and other staff at his school allocate their time to assist in parental compliance in this aspect of tech integration. This emphasizes the point that educators must look at technology as the multifaceted reality it is, thoughtfully packaging technology implementation with strategic integration plans into education and the lives of teachers, students and parents.
Somewhere at the heart of all of the devices, gadgetry and digital promise, educators can’t lose focus on the human connection. The most effective educators know their students by name, notice when a student is struggling, are interested in supporting their learning style and are dedicated to helping their students succeed. Students who are engaged want to come to class, are inspired, want to learn and the impact is felt throughout their school climate, graduation rates and in society.
Andrew Marcinek, a contributor at edutopia.org, reminds educators that “learning goals and objectives – not devices or applications – still drive classroom engagement.” The onus, then, is on Solution Providers to create products that keep student connectedness at the core of their intent, and on educators to choose their tech wisely.