Education vs. Technology – One Advances and the Other Doesn't

Wil, the research guy, notices how technology has advanced, but education is being left behind.

While on vacation recently, I met an English professor who was using a 70s era computer programming punched card as a book mark.

During a brief exchange, he said “Forty years ago we never imagined we’d have things like this,” pointing to my iPhone.

What struck me was the manner in which he offered anecdotes of the days in which they were still in use. He didn’t imply loss or anger. He didn’t express any resentment for discontinuing the now antiquated and obsolete programming medium.

On the contrary, he jovially stated, “Now, I use them as bookmarks and my wife uses them for her grocery lists.” Talk about recycling!

Embracing change.

I began to wonder why advances in technology have been embraced so well and completely, and why we are still in the “punched card” age of education.

Many “upgrades” to effective learning are not universally applied… yet.

For a considerable number of our public schools, we still approach the teaching-learning interaction in a way that is decidedly contrary to what research has not only indicated, but has, in many cases, shown to be true.

It’s not just data transfer.

Some still believe that education means opening the knowledge portal of students (whatever age) and simply depositing information. This is unrealistic and grossly simplified. Education – learning – must be received more than it can be given.

Let them lead.

Autonomous students not only having a say in what they engage but to a large degree feel their education is self-directed. This has a huge impact on their motivation, level of focus and ultimately how much they learn.

Support with information, and don’t forget the “Way to go!”

Research has provided us with concepts such as scaffolding to help children with mastery.

Less acknowledged and utilized (perhaps due to less educator proficiency) has been emotional support and encouragement. But this is just as important in a child’s education.

You may have the best information in the world for how to do something. But if the student is disengaged, it’s just not going to happen.

Start with a conducive learning environment.

This could be a post all by itself. The jist: it’s less about giving something, and more about ensuring the student is engaged. So the educational paradigm must focus on how we can facilitate the student’s learning, whatever that looks like.

This means focusing on the student and HOW they learn right now. Instead of “he just paxil side effecs needs to pay attention” or “she needs to work harder”.

Back to the punched cards.

We’ve been given these specifics that have been presented to us over and over in the research. They are being applied with successful and definitive results. So why are we resistant? And who are the “we” we are talking about?

Look at the inevitable and constant changes in technological advances. Now consider the stagnant, upgrade-resistant public educational system. What’s the difference?

What you can do.

Be informed. Ask questions. Request and support educational “upgrades” in your schools.

You and your children are the customers. Only you can create the demand for improvements in your child’s education.

Have a voice. Be the squeaky wheel. And support schools when they move in that direction.

They may already be doing so. If they are, let them know this is what you want.

For more on how to support your schools in embracing conducive learning environments, contact us, leave a comment or give us a shout on twitter.

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