As Ed-Tech Advances, Technology Shouldn't Come First, the Learner Should

Successful and powerful ed-tech involves making the tech as invisible as we can to educators and students, even as it becomes more ubiquitous.

As the pace of technological progress increases, we need to realize that effective learning experiences have little to do with the tech behind them. It doesn’t matter, for instance, that Apple is selling more than a million iPads to U.S. schools every quarter, or that Microsoft 365 and Google Apps continue to make inroads into the schools. All of these tools—and more—are there to help increase student achievement and learning.
Yes, we have more platforms, devices, web 2.0 tools, applications, and resources than ever before, but if you are paying all—or most—of your attention to the tools, then you are misguided. As school districts continue to pour money into ed-tech, and as we hear the battle cry of teachers needing more ed-tech PD—ENOUGH! My work in transmedia has taught me that successful and powerful ed-tech involves making the tech as invisible as we can to educators and students, even as it becomes more ubiquitous. Technology should not come first, the learner should.
The real aim of ed-tech is to modernize pedagogy and to shape the education of the future. To achieve this, we must focus not merely on the tools available to us, but rather on shaping that future for education through the seamless integration of these tools into meaningful learning. Only with this focus will learning become so pervasive that the learning becomes indistinguishable from the totality of a learner’s life.
The interactivity and connectivity that ed-tech provides brings learning to life by maximizing engagement, stimulating learners’ minds, and allowing learning to grow organically. Striving to make the ed-tech invisible will allow learners, and content, to flow from one platform-to-platform creating a global interconnectivity that allows for genuinely collaborative sharing and the proliferation of knowledge.
If we use ed tech correctly, we will be able to focus on the problems that we have to solve, the opportunities that we hope to grasp. The future isn’t just something that happens; it is ours to build, learner-by-learner, lesson-by-lesson, here and now.
\nThis is part of a series of posts examining the idea time and imagining our collective future. Go here to tell us your wish for the future and we'll bury it in a time capsule.\n

Above illustration by Tyler Hoehne

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