Here are 5 ways Technology Can and Should be used to improve education.
Technology has always been a powerful tool in learning.
The earliest learning technology, writing, transformed learning from just the memorization of stories told by a few near-by elders, to the study of many different ideas from many different people and from many different times.  Writing allowed schools to become places where written documents could be gathered, stored, cataloged, and taught.  The problem with this new technology of writing was that access had to be strictly controlled because many these documents, particularly the very old ones, had to be handled with great care.  As a result, learners had to travel to a school with a library in order to study these new ideas from all these different sources.
The Printing Press and mass publishing was the next major development in learning technology.  The two new technologies transformed learning from the controlled study of just a few ideas from just a few people, to the study of current events and ideas from a vast range of thinkers.  Ideas could now be reproduced exactly as the author intended and distributed to vast audiences.  Learners could access orders of magnitude more information than before the printing press.  Schools were no longer the only place books could be stored.  Individuals could create their own libraries and learning started to become much more personalized.
The domestication of the electron in the 1800’s and the subsequent development of the Computer and the Internet in the late 20th Century has led us to a educational world where virtually unlimited amounts of information is available at the touch of keyboard or click of a mouse. And, because of the huge network bandwidths available, information is available in pictures, sound, and movies as well as traditional text.  In the past there just a few publishers publishing static texts.  Today anyone can be a publisher.  And, perhaps more importantly,  we are can update published media dynamically and distribute it at the speed of light.
The ability to seek new learning and acquire new skills brings personal growth to populations that have never had such capability.
Today’s learning technology has birthed a learning environment where access to personalize learning tools can help all learners reach incredible new levels.
The take-away for me is that the more the community adopts this 21st Century learning environment, the more the community will realize the benefits of improved learning experiences for their community.  There is no reason today that a community cannot be a “learning community.”  And the more a community is a learning community the more likely that community is to thrive.
Here are five suggestions on how technology should be use to ensure learners have access to the highest quality educational experiences:

  1. Personalize Learning – Technology should be used to personalize learning.  Technology based Learning Management Systems should give learners more choice over what they learn, how they learn, and at what pace they learn it at.  Technology should allow learners to organize and direct their own learning that best fits their situation at the time the learning is needed.
  2. Build on Advances in Cognitive Neuroscience –  Learning Communities should use the things we learned about our understanding of how people learn so we can apply the personal and contextual factors that will most impact the learner’s success.
  3. Start with The Skills Needed to Thrive and Work Backwards – Apply understanding of what people need to know and the skills and competencies they need to acquire for success in life and productive work in the 21st century.  Then build a dynamic personalized curriculum to help learners maximize the return on their learning investments.
  4. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – Take advantage of availability of high quality interactive devices and applications to allow teachers to adapt assessments to the needs and abilities of individual learners and provide near real-time results.
  5. Embrace A Mobile Learning Environment – Technology has allowed us to rethink the design of physical learning spaces to accommodate new and expanded relationships among learners, teachers, peers, and mentors.