The following was written by Kathy McGurk, one of Brainscape‘s awesome interns.
While technology is growing at an ever-increasing rate, so is the use of technology in our school systems. However, despite the major growth in the use of technology in schools, there is still so much more that can be done to incorporate technology into the learning process of today’s youth. Unfortunately, sometimes integrating technology into schools isn’t as easy as simply downloading an app.
The blog Mind Shift recently posted about a new report that discussed some of the major obstacles and significant challenges that schools must address if technology is going to continue to advance within schools and further aid in the learning process. The top 6 obstacles are reposted from the Mind Shift blog below. You can check out the full article here. Also be sure to check out Brainscape’s Vision for the Future of Education!
Obstacles to Technology in Schools
1. Digital Media Literacy is More Important Than Ever
Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession, especially teaching. This challenge appears at the top of the list because despite the widespread agreement on the importance of digital media literacy, training in the supporting skills and techniques is still very rare in teacher education. As classroom professionals begin to realize that they are limiting their students by not helping them to develop and use digital media literacy skills across the curriculum, the lack of formal training is being offset through professional development or informal learning, but we are far from seeing digital media literacy as a norm. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that digital literacy is less about tools and more about thinking, and thus skills and standards based on tools and platforms have proven to be somewhat ephemeral.
2. K-12 Education Must Address the Increased Blending of Formal and Informal Learning
Traditional lectures and subsequent testing are still dominant learning vehicles in schools. In order for students to get a well- rounded education with real world experience, they must also engage in more informal in-class activities as well as learning to learn outside the classroom. Most schools are not encouraging students to do any of this, nor to experiment and take risks with their learning — but a new model, called the “flipped classroom,” is opening the door to new approaches. The flipped classroom uses the abundance of videos on the Internet to allow students to learn new concepts and material outside of school, thus preserving class time for discussions, collaborations with classmates, problem solving, and experimentation. The approach is not a panacea, and designing an effective blended learning model is key, but the growing success of the many non- traditional alternatives to schools that are using more informal approaches indicates that this trend is here to stay for some time.
3. The demand for personalized learning is not adequately supported by current technology or practices
The increasing demand for education that is customized to each student’s unique needs is driving the development of new technologies that provide more learner choice and control and allow for differentiated instruction, but there remains a gap between the vision and the tools needed to achieve it. It has become clear that one-size-fits-all teaching methods are neither effective nor acceptable for today’s diverse students. Technology can and should support individual choices about access to materials and expertise, amount and type of educational content, and methods of teaching.
4. Institutional barriers present formidable challenges to moving forward in a constructive way with emerging technologies
A key challenge is the fundamental structure of the K-12 education establishment — aka “the system.” As long as maintaining the basic elements of the existing system remains the focus of efforts to support education, there will be resistance to any profound change in practice. Learners have increasing opportunities to take their education into their own hands, and options like informal education, online education, and home-based learning are attracting students away from traditional educational settings. If the system is to remain relevant it must adapt, but major change comes hard in education. Too often it is education’s own processes and practices that limit broader uptake of new technologies.
5. Learning that incorporates real life experiences is not occurring enough and is undervalued when it does take place
This challenge is an important one in K-12 schools, because it can greatly impact the engagement of students who are seeking some connection between the world as they know it exists outside of school, and their experiences in school that are meant to prepare them for that world. Use of project-based learning practices that incorporate real- life experiences, technology and tools that are already familiar to students, and mentoring from community members are examples of practices that can bring the real world into the classroom. Practices like these may help retain students in school and prepare them for further education, careers, and citizenship in a way that traditional practices are failing to do.
6. Many activities related to learning and education take place outside the walls of the classroom and thus are not part of traditional learning metrics
Students can take advantage of learning material online, through games and programs they may have on systems at home, and through their extensive — and constantly available — social networks. The experiences that happen in and around these venues are difficult to tie back to the classroom, as they tend to happen serendipitously and in response to an immediate need for knowledge, rather than being related to topics currently being studied in school. These trends and challenges are a reflection of the impact of technology that is occurring in almost every aspect of our lives. They are indicative of the changing nature of the way we communicate, access information, connect with peers and colleagues, learn, and even socialize.
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