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Technology Use Planning Overview

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

The term “technology use planning” can best be described as an ongoing, fluid plan for how to use technology in education.  The planning includes the budgetary and spatial requirements for technology as well as the plan for implementation of those technologies.  The idea of technology use planning assumes incorporation of technology but also a careful analysis and plan of how that technology will be used.  John See makes a good point that effective technology plans should be output based starting with the goals or competencies that we want to accomplish rather than the actual technology needed.  This concept is the “planning” part of the process as it assumes a broader knowledge of both the curriculum and the desired learning outcomes (1992).  The technology becomes a vehicle for arriving at that outcome rather than an outcome itself.

The National Educational Technology Plan 2010 can be very effective for technology use planning because it acknowledges several important facts.  One such fact is that students have completely different technology experiences in and out of schools.  There is a disparity between the technology they are allowed to use in school and what they freely use outside of school.  We need to plan for better integration that includes technology that students will encounter in their daily lives.  The NETP also recognizes that faculty need training and support for integrating technology.  It reads, “The best way to prepare teachers for connected teaching is to have them experience it. All institutions involved in preparing educators should provide technology-supported learning experiences that promote and enable the use of technology to improve learning, assessment, and instructional practices.”  We cannot forget that our technology use planning should be focused on the users of the technology.  Anderson notes that a technology plan should be less about computers and more about people (1999).  This is for both planning and execution purposes.  Finally, the NETP includes specific goals and recommended actions that institutions can put into place to help them with their own planning.

I agree with See that plans should be short; however, I think there should be long-term evaluations built into the plan.  For instance, as See mentions, a five-year plan would be completely obsolete five years from now as new technology emerges so quickly that we cannot conceive today of what will be available five years into the future (1999).  However, I believe that we should also have a long-term goal of continually evaluating our technology use plan and making changes to it to address both emerging technologies and the efficacy of the current plan.

I couldn’t agree more that effective plans focus on applications.  I see this daily in my own school.  Our technology is monitored by a person who doesn’t teach and is mostly concerned with accountability for the hardware.  As a result, we have computers available, but we have so severely limited the access to them and their access to applications that they become merely, to use See’s word, keyboards.  As I said above, if we could design our desired outcomes and then plan how to achieve them using technology, education becomes more about the learning and less about face or seat time in front of the technology.

Other than my own teaching, I haven’t had much use with technology use planning.  However, I am constantly amazed and dismayed at the narrow-minded thinking that goes into using technology in education.  I recently had to restrict my students from using electronic devices to access e-books for my literature class. Teachers are not to allow students to use any form of technology except the laptops that we check out on a cart.  I wasn’t told if this was due to bandwidth issues or viruses introduced into our network from outside devices.  Because there was no explanation, it seemed like we are just trying to limit exposure to these devices.  I have students that use electronic dictionaries and thesauri during writing assignments, e-books for in class reading, and i-pads to write papers.  These are devices the students bring with them, and they want to use them!  It’s hard for me to plan for technology use when I am discouraged from allowing students to use technology.

Anderson, L. S. (1999, February). Technology planning: It’s more than computers. Paper to accompany keynote address in Singapore.

See, J. (1992). Developing effective technology plans. The Computing Teacher, 19(8). Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology. (2010). Transforming American education learning powered by technology. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010

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Elements of Educational Technology

September 9, 2011 Leave a comment

The ever-evolving definition of educational technology currently includes thirteen different elements that together comprise the scholarly definition applied to the field. Educational technology’s official definition discusses the relatively new idea of facilitating learning for learners rather than controlling learning.  As an element of the definition, facilitating is extremely important to the overall understanding of educational technology because it has implications for the learner, designer, and educator.  As defined by the AECT, “educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources” (Januszewski & Molenda, 2008).

Facilitating recognizes the learner’s role as a part of the educational process.  Rather than a mere recipient of knowledge, the learner becomes a constructor of that knowledge along with the traditional resources comprised of the teacher, textbooks, and other content (Januszewski & Molenda, 2008).  The facilitating approach creates a more authentic learning environment as it allows learners to explore their learning environment rather than simply react to a series of predetermined stimulus or content.  The learner is able to make choices and impact their own learning as much as the curriculum designer and teacher.  More importantly, the learner is able to make their learning relevant to their own lives and experiences.  “Authentic learning involves exploring the world around us, asking questions, identifying information resources, discovering connections, examining multiple perspectives, discussing ideas, and making informed decisions that have a real impact” (Callison & Lamb, 2004).  Furthermore, Herrinton and Oliver note that “authentic context is valued by students as an element of a multimedia learning environment” (2000).

The AECT element of facilitating is so intimately related to the definition of educational technology that it cannot be separated without rewriting the definition entirely. Indeed, the definition actually states that educational technology is the study and practice of facilitating learning, so this element is critical to an accurate understanding of educational technology itself.  The definition of educational technology and the element both suggest that it is not enough to teach facts and figures.  The instructor must provide the map for the learner’s exploration of the content and facilitate the learner’s journey toward knowledge in a holistic and authentic manner that reinforces the relevance of content to the learner.

My experience as an online facilitator reinforces the idea that facilitation is a stronger instructional strategy than merely “say and spray” lecturing.  My students can work at their own pace, engage as much or as little as they want with the content, and find personal relevance.  Januszewski and Molenda state the importance of facilitating rather than controlling learning (2008). I agree with this idea provided that the facilitation still creates a framework and boundaries. An educational environment with no controls whatsoever seems to be a dangerous enterprise as experience has taught me that students need a controlled environment in order to open themselves to the learning process. That being said, I agree with the AECT’s decision to add facilitating as a key element. My goal is to be a stronger facilitator and leave the lecture at the door.

Callison, D., & Lamb, A. (2004). Authentic learning. School Library Monthly, 34-39.

Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2000). An instructional design framework for authentic learning environments. Educational technology, research and development, 48(3), 23-48.

Januszewski, A., & Molenda, M. (2008). Chapter 1: Definition. In Educational technology: A definition with commentary (pp. 1-14). NY: Lawrence Erlbaum, Inc.