The world, in general, is changing so fast lately and this is even more evident in the technological field. New programs and applications are being created constantly which makes it difficult to decide on a set way to do things. However, it is not better to adopt too many different tools as one will eventually feel disconnected with it all. Everyone has different needs and likes which makes it almost impossible to have a common technological ecosystem for everyone in a group. However, every tech system should provide the following:
Right now, there is a variety of technological tools such as: computers, iPads, Chromebooks, and so on, providing a choice of almost endless varieties of applications that can be used in the classroom. This is the vegetation of an ecosystem. With all that is available, how does a district, a school, a department, and a teacher decide what will be chosen and implemented in the classroom? Furthermore, since technology is evolving all the time, how to settle on a specific application instead of waiting for a better one that will come out in the near future? One thing is certain, these applications allow students to create new types of content i.e. videos, recordings, 3D models . . . and all also have the option to be stored online which make it available 24/7. Personally, I believe that the first question to ask prior to deciding what will be used in the classroom is: What do we want students to be able to do? What is the goal of the activity? When this has been determined, an appropriate application can be found to reach the objectives. There is also a need to look at the students’ needs. Technology should support students to learn, and to facilitate them in demonstrating their knowledge.
The next layer in the ecosystem is the community which focusses on communication and sharing. Teachers and students need programs that will allow collaboration among learners, educators, and the organization. Students are already using applications to communicate virtually in their personal lives but now, it is possible for them to use platforms promoting a more globalized space to meet and to share their knowledge to a wider audience than in the past.
The final but very important item in the ecosystem is the energy which provides fuel to the system: “Teachers are the energy to sustain the system such that students can take advantage of every other aspect of their learning environment" (Holland, 2014). The technology can sidetrack the student’s learning path but teachers will provide the guidance to students so that they keep pursuing “projects of value and help them connect their interests to the required standards” and to also explore fields unknown to them. I think that personalized learning is good but it might also be a way to limit exploration and discovery. Therefore, it is important for students to learn about what interests them and also to acquire new experiences. In students’ ecosystem, teachers provide the required energy to “sustain the system such that students can take advantage of every other aspects of their learning environment" (Holland, 2014)
In the last few years, lots of districts have opted for the BYOD (bring your own device) to access the Google Apps for Education in which students can share, communicate, store, and create their own portfolios. For other districts, who are concerned with students’ privacy and FIPPA, it takes more time to find the technological tools that will set up an ecosystem, but there are some options. The school district can opt to host their own virtual sharing network.
Once again, I think that leaders needs to consult and collaborate with the teachers who are in the forefront of the educational ecosystem, to support them in learning about how to integrate technology in their teaching and learning environment and to offer training on how to adapt their pedagogical practice to be able to support students in acquiring 21st century skills. Teachers are no longer needed to present information to students as the internet does it. Teachers should be there to guide and support the students and learn with them. However, most teachers are not used to these roles so, collaboration with leaders in new pedagogy and colleagues and time will be necessary to experience a shift in the education system. British Columbia is launching a new curriculum focusing on developing students’ critical and creative thinking and communication skills. If districts and provincial governing bodies want teachers to fulfill their obligations in preparing the youth to face an ever changing world, funding will have to be put into the education system to support a proper ed-tech ecosystem.
Holland, B. (November 10, 2014). Building your edtech ecosystem. Edutopia. Retrieved January 31, 2017 from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/building-your-tech-ecosystem-beth-holland