Recently the administrators in Limestone County have read a book entitled, “Learning in the Cloud.” The book addresses a common challenge for school systems across the country: How can we effectively use technology to implement curriculum changes in the 21st century. Modern technology is a major component of the current metamorphosis being experience by public schools. Technology is changing at a pace which causes larger organizations to have difficulty keeping up with the change.
The book chronicles several initiatives across the country and how they implemented new technology to improve instruction. Some of these initiatives have been successful and some have not. Certainly educators need to learn from the mistakes as well as the successes of other systems. In many places education reform is taking the place at the same time as dramatic technology change and the two are many times mistaken for the same phenomenon. While the two changes can be linked, and probably should be linked, if they are not initially coordinated many changes occur in isolation and aren’t as effective as possible.
Effective goal setting is important when undertaking any initiative. The book lists three goals set forward in using technology in education: 1. to improve academic achievement, 2. to facilitate new kinds of 21st century learning, and 3. to promote educational and social equity. Of course all of these are important, but in order to effective accomplish all three goals, the efforts must be intelligently coordinated.
21st century learning typically focuses on creativity, innovation, critical thinking, and flexibility while much of the computer learning in the past has been largely drill and practice. Continuing to add tools that do not fit the current needs of learners does not help to improve the overall education of students. Learners today must also be able to locate information using current technology due to the increased availability of information in modern society.