I’ll never forget the day my fifth grade teacher, Ms. Foy, showed us video clips on the solar system. I can’t remember any facts or concepts from the video, but I remember my feeling of awe when, for the first time, I laid eyes on a LaserDisc. Its very name evoked a sense of futurism and infinite possibility.
In hindsight, the LaserDisc player was a poor investment. LaserDisc was costly, added little pedagogical functionality, and ultimately fizzled out. This anecdote illustrates a critical dichotomy in education: if technology is the future, how do educators prepare students for a future we can’t even imagine?
Thankfully, an organization called the New Media Consortium (NMC) helps teachers and leaders better anticipate this future. The NMC’s Horizon Project “explores the trends, challenges, and technology developments likely to impact teaching, learning, and creative inquiry.” In its 2017 report, the NMC outlines several factors which will shape future classrooms, including the growing role of technology as a teaching aid through adaptive learning, artificial intelligence, and other developments.
But with so many new ed. tech tools, how do educational leaders know which to invest in? In a recent interview for the podcast Education Vanguard, Horizon Project editor Vic Estrada urges schools to “invest in technology that really serves the pedagogy.” Models such as SAMR and TPACK can help leaders be more discerning, hopefully avoiding a costly and ineffective investment.
Unfortunately, even the most thoughtful planning can’t hedge against the reality that technology is rapidly evolving. Educational leaders should stress technological concepts and skills over specific tools. While LaserDisc died, digital media has not. While a better tool will replace iMovie, the concepts and skills of filmmaking are timeless.
Is your school teaching tools, or skills?