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New Year’s Simple EdTech List

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January 4, 2013 By: Ken Royal

Jan 3

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1/3/2013 5:58 PM  RssIcon

KRAbout 10 years ago my principal and friend talked about a day when we wouldn’t warehouse students beyond a certain age, because tiny, embedded chips would be all they needed for continued learning. He was talking well beyond carrying any device, and although he said it with a wry smile, I knew he meant every word.

Along about the same time, I was writing about wearable technologies, where a room or library/data center would recognize students automatically. That idea of being one with a learning environment and with the knowledge intrigued me, and still does.

In my childhood days, we dreamed of flying cars and never thought of the number of awful drivers piloting them. Today, cars driving and parking themselves, for me is just long overdue and expected. Shouldn’t that be happening after 60 years of dreaming? It’s certainly not as scary as wearing glasses to view data and movies while walking city sidewalks. Now, that’s an accident waiting to happen! I know all of this would make the late Isaac Asimov smile.

“No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.” –Isaac Asimov

That leaves me thinking… and thinking… and still thinking.

I’ve been looking more, these days, at the applications of new and existing technologies and software, rather than the device or solution alone. It’s amazing how often their full educational uses haven’t been thought through, written or talked about—and for me, that seems to be where the real discoveries can be found—and need to be shared. I think that at times we get too close to the chalkboard, which makes seeing what’s really there more difficult. I have this fear of looking into that crystal ball this time of year, and getting a narrow, nearsighted future-look. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s better to see a new view, if you can.

The obvious stuff, for this year’s close, is saying tablets are in, smartphones are the answer, and individualized instruction is new, if we don’t call it 1:1. While we can make a case for most any technology or solution, I’m sure that all of us, including the researchers who claim better student achievement using technology, will agree that teachers still make the biggest difference—and those teachers who know how to take advantage of the newest technologies—when and where appropriate—have the best engaged students—and together, students and teachers, have the most learning fun.

There, I’ve said it—Fun—the most learning fun. Years ago I had a very interesting argument about that word fun connected to learning. Learning should be fun, and most often fun learning is exciting.

While I could write about some amazing new technology entries for education in the previous year, or my guess for the next best entries for the New Year, I’d rather make my list simple.

1. Good teachers getting better, knowing more and sharing more, using technology where and when appropriate—looking to the Common Core Standards for backup. Those necessary technology suggestions are there—throughout.

2. Looking at existing and new technologies beyond the surface view of what we’re told they can do—to looking at the possibilities of what they really can do in the hands of educators and students. Be creative.

3. Advance the creation of new learning spaces or “concept rooms” to experiment with changing where students learn and teachers teach. Start with existing computer labs and media centers to make creative changes. Again, be educationally creative.

4. Call for more summits of educators, technology and education marketplace experts, education thinkers, and students—getting together to go beyond talking… to begin taking actions for change. And have them all—every one—drop and check their agenda baggage at the door before sitting at the thinking/action table.

Yeah, a list of gadgets may be a lot easier, but I’d rather have longer discussions about my simple list, and what you’ve added to it, in the New Year.

Ken Royal is a teacher/education and education technology blogger/reporter, video interviewer, podcaster, education event news commentator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology experience. His teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, and Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. Read more of Ken’s work at Royal Reports.

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