Making a Case for Technology in Education

I have regular conversations with educators about the role of technology in their practice and was encouraged to write a series of blog posts to foster curiosity, provide information and suggest resources to begin dialogue for and with the KPU community.

I have been an educator at KPU since 2010 in the Faculty of Health as well as the Curriculum Coordinator who facilitated a number of significant program revisions and currently, in my role as the Manager of Learning Technology and Educational Media. I am also pursuing doctoral studies focused in the distance education arena. In these roles I have had opportunity to observe, inquire and learn about technology and its impact in education. The world is changing and so too should our classrooms.

I say regularly “I am not a techie”, but I work hard to slowly learn new tools because I believe in the positive impact technology can have on teaching and learning. For example, there is disagreement about allowing cell phones and computers in the classroom. Left unguided phones may be a distraction from learning however utilized with purpose they become tools to engage students, build inquiry skills or work collaboratively on a variety of activities.

Depending on your affinity toward technology, you may or may not have integrated technology in your teaching practice. It seems those who enjoy technology have sought opportunities to use it in their delivery of education, while others remain skeptical of the benefit and choose to hold onto their traditional approach.  I have come to realize that this may be due to many variables as opposed to simple resistance.

In a recent conversation with a colleague struggling to determine if and how to incorporate technology in a course I was asked to share how I had come to decide this was something that would be part of the future of education?

Traditional methods of teaching served us well for a long time but some argue that it is inadequate to help us prepare for students in the 21st century. (Davidson, 2017, Bates, 2015). The landscape of higher education is changing, as a result of multiple complex drivers occurring simultaneously. These drivers include:

  • a shift in student demographics
  • a greater need to serve learner inequities
  • changes to university funding
  • an increase in technology
  •  increasing access to information

As a result of the latter two factors the workforce needs are also shifting. Increases in technology impact both the skills needed in the workplace as well as the tools inside and outside the classroom. If we are preparing graduates for work in this environment than we must include technology as part of their learning journey. Finally, and most importantly, as information becomes readily available online, students will look to our institutions to support learning rather than deliver content (Bates, 2015).

Technology skills are about more than the ability to use a computer, it is also the ability to find, evaluate and interpret information (inquiry based learning), this contributes to active learning and is quite different that the passive learning that occurs listening to a lecture. Since information is everywhere, providing students a guiding question(s) and some time to explore the information followed with discussion to help provide context and make meaning will result in deeper and likely more meaningful learning. We are also building awareness of the role technology plays in the world and how information is tracked, shared and accessible, often even when we think it is not.

Technology is not the solution for everything. It needs to be used purposefully to enhance learning or provide an experience that could not be provided without it. This overlap or intersection between technology and pedagogy is an important one and I encourage discussions with colleagues to explore the intersection. A respected colleague of mine suggested that to build life-long learning skills it is vital that we not do for students what they can learn to do for themselves (Pirie-Cross, 2019).

I continue to invest time and energy in understanding the nuances of integrating technology into teaching, digital learning environments and building my expertise to support others as they navigate this paradigm shift in education.  Over the coming months there will be a number of posts on related topic, such as Technology Based Learning Environments and Online Learning Pedagogy. I welcome suggestions of topics that would support you or your department to engage in adopting technology in your practice.

Bates, T. (2015). Teaching in a digital age: guidelines for designing teaching and learning. Creative commons

Davidson, C. N. (2017). The new education: How to revolutionize the university to prepare students for a world in flux. Hachette UK

Pirie-Cross. M (2019) personal communication

Benefits of Technology
• Develop 21st century skills
• Changing student demographics
• Serve inequities
• Prepare student for a technology filled world
• Build digital skills
• Facilitate learning
• Build student self- efficacy

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Leeann leads the Learning Technology and Educational Consultant teams in their efforts to support innovation in teaching and learning at KPU. Leeann oversees and advances existing KPU supported educational technologies and tools to align with institutional values and current best practices. Previously an experienced faculty member, Leeann holds a Post Masters Certificate in Curriculum Design and is a doctoral candidate in the Distance Education EdD at Athabasca University. Leeann is an advocate for the culture of folio thinking pedagogy and its potential to revolutionize KPU's learning landscape.

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