[ISTE 2015] Edtech and Teachable Moments

Thursday, June 11, 2015 -- Sarah Cornelius

For schools and educators, the question is no longer if they’re utilizing technology but how. Even for students who graduated just five or 10 years ago, today’s classroom looks entirely different—and it’s because of technology. The traditional vision of a classroom—attentive students in orderly rows of desks and a teacher lecturing at the front, interrupted only by questions from polite raised hands—is no longer the reality for many students and educators. Technology has put vast amounts of information at students’ fingertips. But, does this mean that they effectively consume it? And where does this leave teachers?

As the leading event for technology in education, ISTE 2015 is a great forum to explore these questions and gain insight into what the answers may be. At the conference, a broad spectrum of educators and edtech developers have an extended opportunity to interact with each other and edtech products. This provides a unique chance to find out what works—and what doesn’t.

At Edmentum, we think that this is one of the best aspects of ISTE. Input from the educators using technology is absolutely key to developing effective solutions, and we dedicate significant time and resources to getting this input. What have we discovered about the role of teachers and tech in the classroom? They’re quite far from being mutually exclusive! Just because students have other ways to access content that teachers used to be solely responsible for providing does not mean that they understand how to interpret it—or even how to effectively use tools to access the right content.

Good teaching is still the backbone for student success. Teachers who are experts in their subject matter, flexible and adaptable, and above all, compassionate and receptive to the needs of their students are more necessary than ever in today’s tech-filled, individualized classrooms. These are the same skills and traits that have always made for effective educators. Technology makes a difference in that it allows educators to put those skills to use in a more targeted manner. With tech solutions available to help determine where their students’ understanding and skills are and deliver some of the basic content that once would have been lecture material, teachers are free to spend more of their time on crucial one-on-one interactions with students. These are the kinds of interactions where concepts can resonate with students on a deeper level, things just “click,” creative ideas take shape, and passions are ignited. Technology in the classroom doesn’t separate students from their educators; instead, it can help bring students and educators much closer together throughout the learning process.

This brings us back to the idea of teachable moments, which we introduced in this post from last week. To us, the greatest possible benefit of edtech solutions is that they support these individualized interactions that often lead to meaningful teachable moments. And it’s one of our goals for the days of ISTE 2015 to spend as much time as possible talking with educators to continue learning how best to help them create more teachable moments.

Planning to attend ISTE 2015? Be sure to visit us at Booth 2406 and talk with us about your strategies and challenges for utilizing technology in the classroom. You can also join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #MovingEducationForward.

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