The new and ever-evolving landscape of technology solutions flooding the market creates the potential to personalize classroom environments on a massive scale. Thus the question becomes increasingly more pertinent: how do we capture this potential and realize it in our classrooms? How can our students really benefit from technology advancements in education? How do we choose the right solutions for our district, and most importantly, what are the necessary changes to our school district's infrastructure and methodology needed to make the most of new solutions? This fast pace of new technology solutions is only getting faster, and district administrators are turning to nearsighted, single-point solutions which fail to address the fundamental factors that enable districts to modernize and transform teaching and learning for the 21st Century.
To address this problem at its origin, research suggests that the approach and methodology for technology implementation are often more critical to sustainability than the actual features of any chosen technology solution. In order to experience measurable and widespread impact from technology solutions, districts must a) address the underlying causes of problems that they are looking to solve, and b) consider the social complexities that affect change initiatives when seeking technology solutions, both which ultimately begin with a unified vision at the district level.
Why are single-point solutions ineffective?
We recognize a problem, and our initial response is to find a way to alleviate the symptoms of the problem instead of the source. Single-point solutions aimed at modernizing classrooms can produce temporary results, but they often create unforeseen consequences and necessitate further solutions as they fail to adequately address the source of the problem or its contributing factors. Without a concerted district effort and a systemic approach to technology integration, solutions and initiatives cannot provide sustainable value.
Technology integration is technically simple but socially complex.
Technology initiatives often grow obsolete, not because they lack the potential for enhancing learning experiences, but because they lack direction. Does your district's leadership share a vision for what the modern, student-centered learning environment looks like? This in addition to a plan for implementation are critical for success. What does the addition of a new solution hope to achieve? How is responsibility for implementing the solution delegated across roles within your district? Consider potential solutions the within the greater context of your district's goals and moving parts, and implement solutions through a robust social infrastructure - the end result being cohesive teaching and learning experiences.
Technology integration requires a holistic approach in order to create sustainable value.
This holistic approach at the district level, or Digital Convergence, is the successful intersection of five major categories of the educational system: Leadership, Instruction Models, Modern Curriculum, Digital Ecosystem, and Professional Learning. Clearly addressing the intersectionality and highly-dynamic nature of technology adoption allow districts to achieve technology integration at scale. Consider the five Drivers of the education system, benchmark your district's current status, and work toward measurable outcomes so that the value of any given initiative or solution becomes concretely discernible relative to your district's goals, alleviating the ambiguity and headache of modernizing the 21st Century learning experience. The ever-increasing rate of advancement in technology will only bolster the need for this methodology to ensure school districts can systematically and sustainably personalize learning by remaining at the leading edge of technology advancement.