The annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2015 Conference and Expo was a whirlwind of educators, media specialists, and other education heroes absorbing the latest and greatest in educational technology. It opened up with an honest keynote address by journalist and activist Soledad O’Brien.
“I may be in the wrong room to say this, but technology for technology’s sake is a complete waste.”
And yes, this is a technology conference.
But her candid remarks weren’t met with distaste and incongruity. Rather, the 8,000 person audience loudly applauded an issue that can easily be shoved under the rug.
According to O'Brien, "if you think [technology] is about newer, faster, better gadgets, you're missing the point." Even when these gadgets are purchased with well-meaning intentions, they are all too often relegated to roles that lead to little impact for students' learning. She encouraged those in education to understand their environment to make technology "leveragable" and useful for the educator, and most importantly, the student.
The internationally recognized journalist shared her past news stories highlighting students who personified the horrors of America's achievement gap. A collective, poignant sigh could be felt amongst educators as O'Brien shared a clip of Lavon, a 7-year-old student she read with. Going into second grade, Lavon was unable to read words such as "the", "cow" and "fun" after being bounced around through four different Minneapolis schools.
This is where technology can truly make a difference. With the right tools and the right implementation, technology could help millions of children like Lavon and "transform the learning experience."
What did you think of Soledad O'Brien's message? Comment below, and let us know your thoughts on how we could transform the classroom with technology.
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