It’s Not About The Tech, Unless It Is

Over the past week I have been looking a bit more deeply into the Future Ready Summit coalition partners in order to learn more about how each one contributes to the #FutureReady initiative. One of those is Digital Promise, an independent, bipartisan nonprofit, authorized by Congress in 2008 as the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies.

Earlier today, I came across a blog post written by Krista Moroder called, Words Matter: Let’s Talk About Learning, Not Technology. In it, Krista reflected on a moment from her training experience in which she came to understand the power of focusing on learning outcomes in lieu of the “tech tool” heavy phrasing that is too often utilized in learning spaces. She goes even deeper by offering alternative phrasing that tech trainers can use to better adhere to the needs of classroom teachers. This is a topic that has been near and dear to my heart for some time and as a matter of fact, I wrote about it in October from the lens of the edtech conference which also too often relies heavily on tool focused sessions.

Remember…It’s not about the tool.

…Unless you are talking about access instead of professional development because for schools without technology, it IS about the tools.

“It’s not about the tech. It’s about the learning” has become a buzz phrase no different than the buzzwords of tech that it’s said against. There are two different sides to this conversation and it’s important to acknowledge that. I agree with the phrase completely in the case of school learning and implementation when it comes to technology as Krista described and even as I described from the tech training circuit. However, the phrase does not apply in schools where there is no technology.

A few years ago, I led a technology implementation initiative at a school where teachers were using the equivalent of “overheads” by way of document cameras that were only connected to projectors and not computers. Picture…stacks of notebook papers of notes being used for lectures.

School policies prohibited cell phone use and 150 classrooms sharing two common labs plus one cart of broken netbooks, meant that technology use was limited unless students took technology courses.

Professional development involved a projected ppt, foldables, TAP evaluation rubrics and the Marzano book. Teachers, under a distict paper limitation mandate, had to find creative ways to help kids learn. So…we focused on “the learning” but there was always something missing…the technology…and by default, the opportunities.

Again…I agree wholeheartedly that we must refrain from letting tech tools dominate PD but at the same token, let’s not forget that as many of us have access…too many do not.

At some point in time, no matter where we are in the spectrum of learning, there exist a period of time that it is about the tools. There also exist a transition when it is not about the tools.

It’s important to acknowledge this as we work to make access to digital learning the norm.

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