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Episode 10: Hooked on Innovation - Ed Tech for the Future

Particularly in recent years, education technology has become an integral part of learning for students. Although some campuses adopted modern technology during the height of the pandemic mainly to facilitate virtual or remote education, the result is that it has enabled most schools today to have access to technology for use inside the classroom as students return to in-person learning.

The Biggest Technology Struggle for Schools Returning to In-Person Education After Virtual Learning

The goal of incorporating technology in the classroom should be to help teachers better educate students to have a brighter future.

At the beginning of the pandemic, many schools were in a state of educational triage in which once they obtained funds, they bought modern technology devices and then put them in the hands of students for use at home to supplement virtual learning. Once that was achieved and virtual learning continued, students settled into a bit of a routine with this remote technology.

However, when schools experienced the end of virtual learning and students returned to the classroom, many schools shunned the technology once used for virtual learning because few were sure how to incorporate those methods into the in-person classroom experience.

In reality, technology that was once used solely for virtual learning can also be used as a blended learning tool to enhance a student’s education. However, as much of the nation transitions into a new normal amidst the COVID pandemic, it is becoming clearer that educators have not been provided with the instruction they need to be able to effectively incorporate this technology into the in-person classroom.

Technology is needed in our schools, and if it is not being used properly it can be a struggle for educators, which leads to frustration for teachers and missed learning opportunities for students.

What Technology Looks Like in Education Today

In a roundabout way, the pandemic became a champion of using technology in a positive way. It enabled the education industry to continue teaching children when it was not possible to do so in person.

When used the right way and with the right instruction, technology can be an amazingly effective supplemental learning tool for remote, mobile, hybrid, and in-person learning.

Classrooms today tend to fall in one of the below categories:

  • Repetitive technology-based classroom. These classrooms, whether it is due to lack of funds and/or knowledge of how to operate certain devices, tend to focus on repetitive learning via the same basic technology tools for students, such as online worksheets or learning games.
  • Flipped classroom. These classrooms were highly advocated for before the pandemic, but not every school had the means or desire to create this type of learning environment, which incorporates mobile devices into the in-person classroom experience. Those that did pre-pandemic were largely successful at switching to virtual learning. Those that were not able to provide a flipped classroom pre-pandemic may now be able to thanks to the accessibility of technology that was used for virtual learning.
  • Advanced classroom. These classrooms have increased access to creative experiences thanks to virtual reality platforms that allow them to experience learning in an entirely different way. As amazing as virtual reality is, this technology can be pricey and not within everyone’s school budget, and for that reason is not frequently used.

Essentially, educators are doing their best to balance normalcy with the constant forward motion of technology. It can be difficult to strike the right balance, especially if educators do not have the support they need in place, and it may look different from one campus to another.

Technological Trends in 2022

As an advocate for technology integration in the classroom, Carl Hooker has held a variety of roles including teacher and administrator during his more than twenty years in the education industry. This experience allows him a unique perspective on things he expects to continue to see in 2022, such as:

  • A new digital divide. While there is still some digital divide between students who have more access to technology than those who do not, the gap is growing somewhat smaller each year. There is still work to do in this area. In some ways, the new digital divide is between educators who do know how to effectively use modern technology in the classroom and those that do not. This divide can potentially be made smaller if more educators are equipped with the tools and knowledge needed for success in this area.
  • Increased reach. In some schools, taking a foreign language requires them to be bussed over to another school to learn something that could be done via modern technology that does not require a bus ride to another campus. As educators become equipped with ways to harness technology to their benefit, there will likely be an increase in reach and opportunities for students.
  • Forward-thinking. While not all schools are ready to jump right in and invest in new technology, forward thinking schools are at the bare minimum paying attention to where it is headed in the education industry. This attention to detail will allow them to more wisely and readily invest when the time comes.

Despite all of the above trends for 2022, Hooker argues there is still much to be said for valuing the relationship between a teacher and student that encourages inspiration and creativity. Technology is incredibly valuable, but equally if not more so is the personal connection a student and teacher can develop through learning.

More from Carl Hooker

Carl Hooker has used his personal experience in the education field to pen a book called, Ready, Set, FAIL! In the book, Hooker encourages the reader to recognize that individually we all have failures that can shape us for the better. He focuses on encouraging teachers to do thoughtful risk-taking in a supportive environment, to navigate thoughtful risk-taking in an unsupportive environment, and to realize that creativity is often born out of obstacles.

Hooker does address technology in the classroom, but it is centered more on the principles of taking thoughtful risks and being more resilient from failure. Although the book is geared specifically toward educators, many across other industries have found the concept of seeing failure as progress if something is learned from it useful.

Technology should have a place at the education table, but thoughtful and effective implementation is required for it to better serve the teacher, student, and overall learning experience, in whatever form that takes.