Still glowing over new tools?

In my first day at NCCE, I was surprised to attend sessions dominated by lists of technology tools and how to use them. Aren’t we well past that point? I certainly thought so after attending Building Learning Communities last summer. Then, session presentations were organized around teaching and learning — what goals did the teacher have for the course, how could one tell that students were learning? Tools were only discussed in the context of how they were strategically used to enrich an environment directed to specific learning objectives.

Excessive focus on the technology itself in the absence of an intentional learning environment reinforces unhelpful stereotypes about technologists and technology. 1) You can improve education just by adding technology; 2) Technologists aren’t interested in teaching and learning. Most of the conference attendees are teachers. Let’s upset the usual stereotypes and return to what matters.

NCCE organizers and attendees, may we set a simple expectation? Accept conference proposals that make a legitimate, explicit connection between the specific qualities of a technology and the construction of an intentional, thoughtful learning environment for children?

2 comments

  1. David Wees says:

    Yeah this is a hot topic in my Masters in Educational Technology program as well. The tools are likely to change quickly over time, the theory behind why a particular tool might be useful or not won’t. One is better off learning the latter and being given a quick exposure to the former.

    However that being said, the first type of workshop is much easier to plan and present. The second has a strong likelihood of not coming off well, given the diverse range of opinions on this topic.

  2. Colette Cassinelli says:

    This same discussion is happening over at Jeff Utecht’s blog: http://www.thethinkingstick… . We can make NCCE better next year – Let’s make sure our local PLN submits those types of sessions!!