This reflection explores my thoughts about the field of educational technology and how it relates to my work within my school district. My school district links equity to all parts of our mission statement. Therefore, I decided to look at scholarly work that combines an equity lens on educational technology.
There are many reasons a person is drawn to a career in education. For me, my drive evolves from a moral interest in guiding future citizens to participate and be empowered by way of their contributions to the world.
I read, “Looking Beyond Learning: Notes Towards The Critical Study Of Educational Technology.” by N. Selwyn.
There are a few reasons this article resonated with me, but the one that I grapple with most is conversations about educational technology that are more interested in where we are going rather than examining where we actually are now. From my experience, technologists are more interested in future potential rather than examining the reality of technology use now and if it is achieving the desired results. And, what results should we care about?
The article asks us to consider three basic questions to get at determining “the state of the actual” evidence:
- What is the use of technology in the school setting actually like?
- Why is technology use in educational settings the way it is?
- What are the consequences (good and bad) about what happens with the use of technology in educational settings? This question isn’t concerned with punitive measures related to inappropriate technology use as much as it is asking: How are we using technology for good and for what good? Unintended consequences?
My district has encouraged technology use in the classroom through innovation grants. Teachers submit a grant proposal in order to get what they desire and report back out in various ways to share the successes and failures. It isn’t an equitable practice, but it does ensure that the educators most interested in using technology in the classroom have the opportunity to do so and the idea is that others will take interest and a ripple effect of interest and action will occur. It has worked fairly well. Now that we have enough innovators who have used technology long enough, the district is asking us to report back actual student performance data in the year ahead.
The final aspect of the article mentioned above that speaks to me and is related to our studies in this course comes from this quote:
“In particular, it is argued that the academic study of educational technology has
grown to be dominated by an (often abstracted) interest in the processes of how people can learn with digital technology. While issues relating to the design, development and implementation of ‘effective’learning technologies will continue to be of central importance to the field, it is reasoned that greater attention now needs to be paid to how digital technologies are actually being used– for better and worse – in ‘real-world’ educational settings. In this sense, it is contended that the academic study of educational technology needs to be pursued more vigorously along social scientific lines, with researchers and writers showing a keener interest in the social, political, economic, cultural and historical contexts within which educational technology use (and non-use) is located.” (Selwyn, 2010, p. 67)
Why is this so important? It’s important because all aspects of public education should be concerned with helping all students reach their potential. If technology is part of the educational system then it should also be viewed with an equity lens. Not only, who has access, but also how are we preparing all students for the bigger educational technology picture- socially, politically, and economically.
Where are you now, in terms of your own teaching and professional practice and the inclusion of educational technology in that process?
I am competent at integrating technology into lesson plans. I am growing in my ability to share my knowledge with others at different levels of technology adoption. I care about taking part in the conversation in my district and beyond to ensure that educational technology, as a field, develops and is widely respected.
What kind of change do you hope to see as a result of this class?
I would like to become more comfortable speaking about the role educational technology can play in our district, how we use it and to what end. We have had enough “bells and whistles” talks. I believe our district administration is looking for more concrete results.
How might your knowledge and experiences influence the actions of those around you?
I need to let more people know that I am pursuing a Master’s in Educational Technology. Colleagues know that I am a competent user of technology in the district, but my knowledge base is growing beyond that. As I have more opportunities to offer professional development, it will be great to be able to put educational technology into context so educators and parents can see the why behind the field and the related results instead of just the amazing projects and interesting applications.
Selwyn, N. “Looking Beyond Learning: Notes Towards The Critical Study Of Educational Technology.” Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning 26.1 (2010): 65-73. Professional Development Collection. Web. 2 July 2016.