I used to pack text books during the summer to earn spending money during my college years. Collier-McMillian was the book company that had its distribution center based in Riverside, New Jersey (still may?) Textbooks and blackboards were what teachers and students used almost exclusively in the classroom (maybe some audio-visual aids on special days) at nearly all academic levels in those times (wow, this guy must really be old!). Now text is giving way to tech as a pervasive learning tool, but the seasonal rituals of selling, distributing, using, and evaluating these tools for future use seem to be as much in place as ever.
Spring is in the air and many professional educational organizations, including those in the educational technology world, are busily convening and preparing for their educational renewal in the fall. The beginning of a cycle that will hopefully help many more students and teachers enjoy a more successful school year than the past one. Hope springs eternal.
So here I am now, a recently retired federal employee who last worked in the Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology. In that capacity I was very engaged in how technology can improve and increase learning opportunities for all children. I had spent the previous twenty years of my federal service in the Office of Special Education Programs. In many ways the impact of technology in educational programming for students with disabilities was blatantly obvious. Students could now use more digital tools better suited to their individual learning strengths, empowering both students and teachers in reaching new educational goals.
I think that the real key to success in the use of educational technology for all students would be the same recognition that technology is not a “one size fits all” proposition. Technology has clearly produced more learning options for students, and can be used to help teachers reach all their students. Let’s all spring forward in a new way.