Instructional Technologists Are Needed in K-16

The problem is that we can’t expect to see this dialogue and exploration coming from technocrats or people who are hired to manage instructional technology. Their survival depends on centralization and a tight rein on all technology. The last thing they want is for teachers to become empowered and independent learners capable of creating their own learning environments from the best options that are available on the living and breathing web. - Jim Shimabukuro

I really agree with all until the final paragraph. It sounds good and would work if theory matched reality. For too many instructors and K-12 teachers, they just don’t know “the best options that are available on the living and breathing web.” Furthermore many don’t even know how to find out. Once they do, they have the problem of evaluation, of technological literacy, which means being able accurately to evaluate technology for a specific purpose and assess costs and benefits.

School technologists can help a great deal and should not be removed from the equation. They understand the technology; instructors understand the pedagogy. Together, they could make intelligent decisions.

I’d take yet a further step. Some technologies such as social media are empowering. Others are strictly pedagogical — think textbooks or videos. The latter often are dictated by departments or institutions. The instructors add supplements if they choose (and the institution can afford them). There’s value to having the backbone of a given course the same across some range of classes.

Some of the “supplemental” technology, if pedagogical in nature, should not simply be left to instructors to find and to finance. The technologists, working with the administration and instructors, should help to set standards and to select appropriate materials. Unless these materials are free, many institutions will benefit from site licenses that cost considerably less than what the same materials would cost for an individual instructor.

All of these comments may or may not apply to post-secondary institutions depending on their nature. I see them as valuable in today’s money-starved community colleges, for example. In K-12 education, they apply strongly. How is a teacher, who is not technologically savvy and who is overwhelmed by five daily classes of 30-40 students, going to find appropriate technology, evaluate it, propose it to the administration, update lesson plans, deploy it, and manage any technical problems that arise? Won’t happen.

If every instructor, K-16, were really technologically literate and had plenty of time, then the suggestions of the final paragraph would have more merit — if also there were no imperative for consistency in a school system.


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