Many teachers and professors are looking for the magic touch of technology to implement into their classroom experience. They review many software titles, read up on the latest and greatest technology, go to conferences, and in general get very involved and engrossed in researching the products available to them that they could use in their class or school. Some companies will tell them there is a great solution to their information technology needs, involving complex systems and high cost.
Sometimes, contractors or consultants are brought in to suggest a solution, usually suggesting the technology their organization happens to sell. School IT directors read how information technology workers will be the workers of the future, and that without this type of learning, their learners will slip and fall behind technology workers in other parts of the world. As we speak, India intends to pass the U.S. in graduates with higher degrees that can do work at less cost and faster than their American counterparts.
Administrators see these signs and become concerned that they need to implement a similar solution to a peer school or college, in order to keep student numbers or improve grades. But what is the correct solution, the right approach to harnessing technology in the classroom? The correct approach should be geared on information, not technology. A little explanation: What is the purpose of bringing technology into the classroom? Is it to simply say “We use technology day to day in our learning environment”?
Is it to meet a mandate of a particular number of computers or hardware pieces per learner or student? Almost always, these reasons will not suffice for giving a student information technology skills. The reason should be to provide information to students and teachers, using the best information technology solution to meet that goal. Technology is changing very rapidly, but the information it is providing is timeless. Whichever solution is chosen, it should help the learning, not necessarily be the object of the learning. The technology solution should provide the means of learning for students, it should be flexible, and robust, and not interfere with the learning in the classroom.
For the same reason, when choosing a vendor, implementer, consultant, or contractor, they should understand these basic facts also, and be encouraged to work with the school or learning institution to sufficiently meet the goal of enabling a rich learning environment. The best information technology solutions are the ones that have emphasis on information, with the technology geared toward providing it.