May 052011

Learning Technology:Tablets are Good, Content is Better, and Teachers are the Best Educational ICT Investment

Learning Technology:  Original Post by Wyan Vota: Tablets are Good, Content is Better, and Teachers are the Best Educational ICT Investment

Original post comment  by Sam Gliksman Posted: 21 Apr 2011 04:04 PM PDT:


I fear you may be over-estimating the impact of teacher training in the western world. The United States spends more per capita on educational learning technology than any other nation on earth. It’s not even close. While we can bemoan the lack of teacher training, it also has been relatively significant. The obvious question remains after all the investment in educational learning technology – where are the results? The USA is currently caught in a very public national educational crisis. Newspapers are publishing teacher ratings, schools are being closed and national academic standards are falling. It seems apparent that despite all the costlylearning technology implementations, educational standards have fallen significantly. Why?

In her study of how learning technology is used in industry, Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff has identifies two distinct phases in the way new tools are implemented, calling them “Automating” and “Informating”  ( In the Automating stage, new tools are used to reinforce existing practices and processes. We see this stamped all over the educational space. Smartboards reinforce existing frontal teaching methods. Digital content replaces paper distribution. Technology speeds the efficiency of existing standardized testing. The essence and character of traditional educational practices however haven’t changed. It’s still “business as usual” in most American schools.

The second stage of tool implementations – “Informating” as Professor Zuboff calls it – involves the re-imagination of processes using new learning technologies. Instead of focusing on making existing processes more efficient, we start to look at entirely new methods and goals. We are in the infancy of that stage in education. In the Informating phase, educators reevaluate goals and visions:

– We see a society that values skills such as critical thinking, communication and creativity over the rote memorization of content. After all, the vast majority of content can be easily accessed within seconds on most mobile devices.
– We value new literacies such as informational literacy that enables students to access, filter and evaluate the evolving mass of content now available.
– We recognize an emerging global society where development of collaborative skills far outweigh the traditional demands that students sit still, listen and work only on their own.
– We understand and value the use of text as a means of conveying information but also recognize that alternative medias are the language of new generations and their use needs to be encouraged in schools.
– We feel the empowerment granted by new learning technologies and their ability to move us from frontal delivery of content to involving students in discovery based and interactive learning practices.

The availability of learning technology is important and the value of having well trained teachers is vital. However that training becomes far more valuable when it focuses not just on the nuts and bolts of how to use learning technology and instead encourages teachers to dabble, experiment and re-imagine how learning technology can be used to create new educational horizons. A skilled teacher isn’t one that just knows how to use a specific tool or technology. A skilled teacher knows how to utilize that tool to forge new educational paths for his/her students. It is the responsibility of our educational leaders to usher in this “second stage” of learning  technology integration. The future is calling us.

Original Post: Tablets are Good, Content is Better, and Teachers are the Best Educational ICT Investment

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