User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Some Thoughts About Transforming Education Through Technology

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I had the privilege of being on a Reform Symposium Conference 2013 panel to discuss transforming education.  Here are my thoughts related to the questions I was asked to addressed.

As a means of introduction, what are a few successful technology projects you have implemented?

I described three:

  1. First is a teacher in-service course and workshop I developed, Educator as a Networked Learner.  This course assists educators in becoming connected educators in order to more effectively drive their own professional development and incorporate social networking into their own classrooms as an integrated part of their instructional practices.  See and for more information
  2. A second project I want to highlight is a wiki project for 3rd through 5th grade gifted students.  Creative Web Tools For and By Kids was a project designed for students, ages 9 to 14, to use emerging technologies for engaging, thinking, learning, collaborating, creating, and innovating .  This Wiki was the workstation for exploring, interacting with, learning from, and creating with emerging technologies.  Students identified a topic of interest.  A WIki page was created for that topic.  This page was used to identify specific learning goals, to locate and post links to sites that support those interests, and to begin creating web-based projects to creatively demonstrate their learning experiences.
  3. The final project I want to highlight was one where I integrated mobile technologies via a bring your own device format into an undergraduate course on Interpersonal Communications.  Here is a link to my website that describes these activities, see and student reactions to the course can be found at

Give three characteristics of what constitutes good technology integration.

First and foremost, good technology integration is ubiquitous, transparent, not identified or labeled as learning about or using technology, and seamlessly integrated into learning.  Teachers, learners, and observers don’t typically notice learning tools such desks, pencils, and paper used for learning.  This should be the case for using technology in the classroom, too.  In other words, effective technology integration just becomes a subset or embedded component of good pedagogy.

Second, we are living in an age of rich media and interactive web tools – much of these free online.  These technologies provide the opportunity to address different learning preferences and the principles of Universal Design for Learning.  Educators can present the content in a variety of ways and students can express their learning in a variety a ways.  So effective technology integration takes full advantage of these resources to fully embrace and offer students a variety of ways to learn and express their learning.  It is the key

Third, technology should be used to assist learners in coming out of social, intellectual, and interest and value based isolation.  Almost every student I’ve ever met has some unique idiosyncratic talent, skill, belief, set of values, and interest.  By idiosyncratic I mean that that none of those in his or her surrounding face-to-face environment has or possesses that “thing”.  Social networking can help students connect with their tribes.  Teachers should assist all students in becoming connected students; to help them find their tribes.

What is a pitfall teachers should avoid when teaching with technology?

The bottom line is that teaching with technology means changing one’s mindset as what and how teaching occurs.  I’ve discussed the similarities of teaching to the evolution of the web beginning with Web 1.0 or Education 1.0 where the mode of information dissemination as one way from expert to consumer; teacher to student to Web 2.0 to Education 2.0 where there is more interactivity and two-way communication and now Web 3.0 or Education 3.0 where networks and interest-driven communities share knowledge, resources, and events; where these communities evolve and develop based on the members’ needs and interests; where the consumption of knowledge and resource transform into community production of ideas, opinions, strategies for continued learning and evolution, and production of community resources.  See Schools are doing Education 1.0; talking about doing Education 2.0; when they should be planning Education 3.0 for a deeper discussion on this topic.

The pitfalls of technology integration is based on ignoring this evolution by teaching using a 20th century pedagogy and  teaching Education 1.0.  In other words, they are re-creating a 20th classroom using technology.  An example of this is with the big push for ipads, 1:1 initiatives where they download a bunch of apps that are virtually (yes pun intended) worksheets on steroids, just another way for students to receiving, responding to, and regurgitating information rather than being the connectors, creators and contributors that technology affords.

Share with us a past struggle you had when teaching with technology? What did you learn from the experience?

A continuing struggle I have with technology is connected to teaching and doing professional development with teachers and related to teachers’ changing their mindset about what and how teaching should occur.  Being a educational technology faculty has taught me perseverance, patience, problem-solving.  When I do technology integration with teachers, I often see frustration as they try to learn new technologies.  They want technology to work for them quickly and without any glitches – both inside and outside of the classroom environment.

This is related to a need for a change of mindset that was discussed in response to the previous question.  This means changing one’s educator mindset from being an expert to being a learner; from knowing all the answers to learning to ask questions; from thinking of education a static archive of content to one that is evolving at a rapid rate of knowledge development.  Integrating technology, as I mentioned, means changing the mindset that everything needs to go smoothing, as planned and structured in the classroom setting.  Technology may or may not work as planned, keeping an open mind, learning how to problem solve, eliciting the assistance of students when things go wrong and looking at technology glitches and problems as just part of the learning in this age of technology.

How does a teacher begin the journey? Any favorite resources?  

The strongest recommendation to being the journey of technology integration is to find a mentor or mentors, face-to-face and/or online. who have a lot of experiences and successes using technology.   Nothing can top being able to get advice, resources, and suggestions from those educators who have successfully gone through this journey.  Those new to technology integration don’t know what they don’t know.

So my favorite technology resource for this journey is without question is Twitter.  On Twitter, educators can find and follow educators and others who have similar content and grade level interests.  For more on Twitter for Professional Development, see

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

October 11, 2013 at 8:48 pm

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