EdTech: Beyond Hands Held High
EdTech can help us get beyond just hands held high. Having said that, I find it very interesting that the responses I still get for the reasons assessment technology isn’t used daily in class always has something to do with it’s because raising hands is quicker. Unfortunately, raising hands doesn’t quite add up to knowing completely where students are in their daily learning—in any century. That response is as absurd as being at a parent/student conference and sharing “Your son/daughter/my student raises his/her hands a lot.” That shares absolutely nothing, and no amount of storytelling about the student’s in-class escapades is appropriate today either. Educators need to know where students are at each moment, and students are entitled to know where they are, too. Parents, administrators, and every stakeholder in a child’s learning must know as well.
Real assessment shouldn’t lead to rambling conversations of what needs to happen, but rather to straightforward dialogue of what has happened, and furthermore ways to move to action for next levels of individual student learning. While educators may be able to adjust course quickly in a hands-raised environment, today, it is equivalent to sailing under wind power without accurate navigation under fickle breezes. It can be done, but the technology exists to do it better, and taking advantage of that means knowing much more in less time.
The most important view, though, should be that of each student in class. At that level, technology needs to ensure every child participates. That participation, whether educators think about it as engagement or assessment, is really what students care about. A student being part of the class in an active and authentic way, and not just for a few moments, but for an entire class period, is where learning should be. That is not as simple a task as asking students to raise their hands, but it shouldn’t be, because education is more complex than that. Instructional technology can no longer be just a slideshow presentation on a front of the class whiteboard, or a simple yes/no, true/false, or number/letter polling. That may be the start, but it cannot be the end. In the age of social, we need to get more social in classrooms, too. Today’s technology can do it.
Technology in the hands of students, with interactive apps and software, and cloud possibilities can bring the learning environment together in a most active way for all. Educators and students can take it to the next level, too, with the right technology, and the right teaching leadership, as well as proper educator training and professional development. District leadership should decide what the right learning environment looks like, and research to find the best teaching and learning tools to complement the best curriculum choices for today’s students and educators. But do that with a look to the future. While education can look to history, and what’s happening in the present, it should never be stuck there. We are beyond just having hands held high; we need to know more from and about each student, as well as what they think and the reasons why they think the way they do. It’s a wondrous time in education—get there technologically, too!
About the Author:
Ken Royal is an educator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology teaching experience, as well as a blogger on all things education and education technology. Teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. He is a Promethean storyteller. Follow @KenRoyal on Twitter.