Michael Fullen writes in his book Coherence (2016) that technology and digital devices in the classroom can be used to accelerate learning in order to get really deep into the content. Fullen argues, though, in order to achieve this depth of knowledge, new pedagogies are required. In other words using edtech to support outdated teaching practices does not improve student learning. John Hattie might agree as Hattie’s Table of Effect Size shows that computer aided instruction and instructional media have a below average effect on improving student learning. Fullen suggests that the structure of teaching needs to change so that the use of technology in classrooms can act as a conduit to deep learning and greater understanding by students. I think this is a key point that can’t be understated. The old way is for students to become masters of the content, and good teachers are able to convey the content using various direct teaching methods to help students with the mastery. The new way is for students to master the process of learning.
I wonder how bored students get when they are tasked with making yet another Powerpoint or Word document in order to regurgitate some information found using Google about a topic. When this is as deep as we go with the use of technology, we are not even scratching the surface of what our students need. In a world with disappearing borders and global issues that will affect everyone living on earth, our students are going to be faced with future problems we can’t even begin to imagine. Our students will be at a disadvantage unless they learn using methods that are appropriate for 21st Century learners.
My feeling is that it doesn’t much matter which specific technology you choose to use with your students, what matters is how the technologies are used with students. Fullen identifies 6 skills that students need for the future; Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Citizenship, Character, and Communication. If the technology we use in schools can address these 6 skills, our students will be further ahead and will be better prepared for whatever the future throws at them.