How does the use of technology enhance learning?

One day conference for universities and colleges

Twitter hashtag: #kfkudir, TodaysMeet: links to presentations:

kompetanseOn April 3rd I have the honor of presenting and co-hosting a conference arranged by the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training. The target group is professors and coordinators from colleges and universities working with teacher training, specifically for the program that in Norwegian is called “Kompetanse for kvalitet”. This is an initiative from the Norwegian Government and it has funded the professional development for many teachers in Norway.  The goal is to strengthen the competency of the teachers in different subject areas. In my school at least 5 teachers each year have been able to study at universities and colleges since the program started in 2012. The government pays for the courses and the schools are reimbursed the cost of substitute teachers for the period, often a whole school year. There are some guidelines for these courses, one being this;  the course should include knowledge of the use of ict in the subject matters. And that brings me back to the question, how does the use of technology enhance learning?

Is there an urgent need for change?

Most likely there are many answers to that question. When discussing the use of technology in schools I think it is important to consider the following:

  1. If asked “what will the schools of the future look like”, what would your answer be?
  2. How long do you think it will take to change our schools?
  3. What does teaching and learning look like today and what will it look like in the future, lets say 10 – 15 years from now
  4. What are 3 important areas we need to change in your opinion?

Many businesses have drastically changed, (I like this video “The Blockbuster Video Living Museum “) so then why shouldn’t schools?

What are the success criteria?

Foto: Stein J. Bjørge
Gode, gamle stikkontakter er fortsatt en forutsetning for fremtidens grensesprengende skole, her representert ved Sandvika videregående skole. Foto Stein J. Bjørge

As I see it there is a movement towards student involvement and participation on a whole different scale today.  The Maker movement is an example of this. It is a change from teacher centered towards a student centered learning environment. And this is where technology can help us. The important question to ask is this: How can technology enhance the learning of all the students? What works for one student may not work for another. One size does not fit all in education. I think the focus needs to be on the pedagogy first, technology and content next. How do we ensure the participation and engagement from all our students?

Can students learn on their own?

I recently heard Anthony Salcito talk at the Microsoft World Forum in Barcelona. He addresses the shift from the teachers controlling the the classroom and all the learning that goes on there. He explained how this is difficult for many teachers by visualizing it like this:

Your students are learning without you!

Students today can access a wide variety of resources and learn from a wide variety of  experts and from each other. And we should not to be concerned by that, but celebrate and embrace it. We need teachers to say, it is amazing that students are learning without me outside of the school, outside of the classroom. How can I use my expertise as a teachers during the time I have with my students in the classroom to leverage that power, to expand on it and to deepen its impact.

To me this means that schools should know how to help their students using technology to learn, by flipped classroom, collaborating with others connecting the classroom to the world. In my vision of the school of the future I see teachers and school leaders who know how to connect, who know where to find resources, and who are constantly looking for the best way to help their students.

What Would Be a Radically Different Vision of School?

I think I would like to end this by quoting this article with Will Richardson in MindShift, soon to be speaking at the Itslearning conference in Bergen.

“We need to begin to think about schools in a fundamentally different way,” Richardson said. In his vision of this third narrative, reformers would focus on creating an education system that supportsinquiry-based, student-centered learning, where students are encouraged to find entry points into the mandated curriculum in ways that are meaningful to them. Technology is an integral part of Richardson’s vision because it allows students to create and demonstrate their knowledge. “That piece of it really allows kids to create things and connect with other people, arguably more important than much of the traditional curriculum that schools are built around,” Richardson said.

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