Over the past decades, the landscape of technology has changed radically. A gadget you can put in your pocket now outperforms early computers that filled an entire room. In some schools, tablets at all desks have replaced desktop computer labs, and students turn in assignments without a pen, sheet of paper or wall-hung homework pocket.
Experienced teachers who desire a position of educational leadership are well-served by earning a degree that emphasizes the current trends of technology and its future.
How History Has Viewed Technology in the Schools
Although experts in the field have never really known quite how to define technology in the context of education, key concepts have emerged in the past, explaining how technology was used in schools:
- During the years prior to the 1950s, the most technologically advanced equipment used in schools consisted of audiovisual players like film projectors, with photographs and stereographs helping students to see beyond the classroom and gain a sense of the world and unknown concepts.
- In the 1960s and early 1970s, educational technology pioneer James D. Finn stated "that instructional technology should be viewed as a way of looking at instructional problems and examining feasible solutions to those problems." During this period, technology followed the scientific definition: The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.
- By 1977, technology was becoming more complex, requiring a definition focused on process. The Association for Educational Communication and Technology stated that "educational technology is a complex, integrated process involving people, procedures, ideas, devices, and organization, for analyzing problems and devising, implementing, evaluating, and managing solutions to those problems, involved in all aspects of human learning."
- In June, 2004, the Association for Educational Communications and Technology created the following definition, which has become the standard for educational leaders: "Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources."
Closing the Technology Skills Gap in Schools
According to educational technology resource EdSurge, in a worldwide assessment of adults, "the country that's home to Apple, Google and other Silicon Valley powerhouses ranked dead last — behind Poland — on technology skills."
An increase in the presence of technology hardware in schools on its own will not make a difference in closing the international gap. The National Academies Press states, according to several group studies, that technology "has great potential to enhance student achievement and teacher learning, but only if it is used appropriately." It is up to educational leaders to select the right hardware, software and systems for the needs of their students.
Preparing to Close the Gap
Experienced educators aspiring to positions of leadership, especially with an eye on technology management, must be well-prepared to enter the world of technology as equipment and programs rapidly evolve and improve. They must understand the importance of being able to evaluate the many options available to schools today and how these options will grow into the future.
The University of West Florida (UWF) offers an online degree program, preparing teachers to become Educational Specialists, with a choice of focus: administration and leadership; curriculum and instruction; or instructional design and technology, which includes courses on advanced instruction design and human performance improvement.
The Instructional Design and Technology area of focus includes the capstone course, Research on Emerging and Innovative Technology Systems, in which you will "design and develop instructional systems that use innovative and emerging technologies to promote motivation, performance and learning in education and training systems." As a prospective leader in the area of technology for your school, you will have a distinct advantage over educators who lack proficiency in this critical area of education.
Helping our students close the technology gap should be one of our most important goals as we prepare them for the future. Investing in these focused classes in the Educational Specialist program at UWF, with an eye on how to plan effective instructional systems, will benefit both you and your students.
Learn more about the UWF Educational Specialist in Curriculum and Instruction online degree program.
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