Innovation in EdTech: Getting it Done!

photo ed tech

I recently had the privilege of spending a day just outside of DC, working with incredible educators from around the country, ASCD, and the US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology. Professors, teachers, administrators, deans, organizations, and policymakers came together for a summit on innovation in teacher preparation, with a focus on preparing preservice teachers to effectively use technology in their classrooms.

Heading into the day, I wasn’t sure what to expect; I feared a day of arguing about ideology, or coming up with pie in the sky ideas with no follow through.

Wow, was I wrong!

I knew I was in for something great as soon as I saw the objectives for the day:

Gather information from innovative teacher preparation programs on what ED can do to help the field move toward four goals for edtech in teacher prep:

  • Focusing on the active use of technology to enable learning and teaching through creation, production, and problem solving.
  • Building sustainable, program wide systems of professional learning for higher education instructors to strengthen and continually refresh their capacity to use technological tools to enable transformative learning and teaching.
  • Ensuring pre-service teachers’ experiences with educational technology are program deep and program wide rather than one off courses separate from their methods courses.
  • Aligning the above efforts with research based standards, frameworks, and credentials recognized across the field.
  • Secure plans and commitments from attendees outlining what they will do to move their institutions and the field at large toward better preparing teachers in the effective use of technology to transform teaching and learning.

This summit was the best of what we can do when our most progressive minds come together; when theory meets practice, and when teachers and researchers work alongside each other. We worked in small, collaborative groups, we made strong connections, and we heard case studies of ed tech success. We did come up with pie in the sky ideas, but we also put actionable plans down on paper. We shared those ideas directly with a Senior White House Policy Advisor on education.

I’m proud to say that in the MAT@USC, we are already doing many of these things; as a matter of fact, that is a big reason we were one of the schools selected to attend this summit. Our program is revolutionary in having made hybrid, webcam-enabled teacher preparation a success; a huge risk for such a prestigious institution that has clearly paid off for our school and for our students. We also have a significant amount of active technology use built into our courses; over the next couple of weeks, I will be releasing a series of blog posts that highlight how we have transformed one of our foundational courses, The Application of Theories of Learning to Classroom Practice, from a more traditional, predominantly pencil-and-paper assessment course, to a flipped-learning, collaborative and formative assessment based course that thrives through the use of third-party, freely available Web 2.0 technologies.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still innovations to be made. As we move forward with the continual improvement of our teacher preparation program, I am excited to tackle the task of more thoroughly integrating active, standards-based technological preparation in all of our coursework.

One of the ways that all teacher preparation programs can begin to make improvements like this, to move intentionally toward meeting the objectives above, is to read and integrate the National Education Technology Plan into their curriculum. This plan is brilliant, multilayered, and comprehensive. If you are in any way involved with education, then this is something with which you need to become familiar. As stated within the Plan:

Technology can be a powerful tool for transforming learning. It can help affirm and advance relationships between educators and students, reinvent our approaches to learning and collaboration, shrink long-standing equity and accessibility gaps, and adapt learning experiences to meet the needs of all learners.

Our schools, community colleges, and universities should be incubators of exploration and invention. Educators should be collaborators in learning, seeking new knowledge and constantly acquiring new skills alongside their students. Education leaders should set a vision for creating learning experiences that provide the right tools and supports for all learners to thrive.

However, to realize fully the benefits of technology in our education system and provide authentic learning experiences, educators need to use technology effectively in their practice. Furthermore, education stakeholders should commit to working together to use technology to improve American education. These stakeholders include leaders; teachers, faculty, and other educators; researchers; policymakers; funders; technology developers; community members and organizations; and learners and their families.

We don’t know what kind of world, what kind of economy, what kind of social situations, and what kind of lives we are preparing our k-12 students to inhabit. We don’t know what the technology they will be using will look like. Short of an apocalypse, though, there will be MORE technology, though, not less. Students and teachers will need MORE ability to effectively navigate a technological world, and it is the role of teacher educators to ensure that we produce teachers with the necessary skills.

In what ways have you incorporated technology into your own teaching or into your teacher preparation program? Share them below, and/or tweet them at me at @DrCorinneHyde, and tag @OfficeofEdTech – let’s keep the conversation going!

photo credit: P1000641 via photopin (license)

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