Yesterday I attended a session at TIES (the Minnesota state educational technology conference) by Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. Keith presented some findings from a report on Hot Technologies in
K-12 Education
by CoSN’s
Emerging Technologies Committee
. He noted that the committee focused on
technologies that have the potential to transform practice and that the emphasis
was on technologies that are emerging, not those that have emerged
[note: when Keith asked the audience for technologies in their
organization that fit this description, responses include electronic
whiteboards, wireless, projectors, and parent portals]. Here are my notes from
Keith’s session:

5 Key Educational Issues

  1. galvanize instruction and promote authentic learning
  2. improve assessment and evaluation
  3. address diverse learning styles and needs
  4. build community
  5. improve administrative efficiency

To be included in the committee’s report, a technology
tool needed to

  • address one of the major educational issues above,
  • possess transformative power, and
  • be feasible

1. Promote authentic learning

  • active highly portable storage devices (e.g., flash keys, portable external
    hard drives, iPods)
  • datacasting

Transformative value

  • incorporate compelling, up-to-date audio, video, data into everyday
  • empowering students to play an active role in their own learning

2. Improve assessment

Transformative value

  • making NCLB-required assessments easier to perform
  • managing mountains of data and finding the “gems” that actually assist in
    making decisions

3. Address diverse learning styles

Transformative value

  • based on principles of universal design / accessibility, these tools help
    all students, not just those with hearing disabilities

4. Build community

  • programmable phone systems (can send pre-recorded phone messages in multiple
  • student information systems (web-enabled)
  • learning management systems (student / parent portals)
  • blogs

Transformative value

  • engaging parents and the larger community
  • enabling schools to reach increasingly diverse populations
  • substituting electronic communication for printed reports and face-to-face

5. Improve administrative efficiency

  • radio frequency identification (RFID)

Transformative value

  • student safety
  • eliminating time-consuming busy work of taking attendance
  • tracking inventory

My reactions

Keith’s presentation helped me remember that most of these tools are not
present in most school districts. As an educational technology person, it’s easy
to feel from the practitioner magazines and conferences that this stuff is all
over the place because you read about it and hear about it so often. For
example, wireless, electronic whiteboards, and parent portals all have been
around for a while and have been written about extensively. To hear educators
say that they are “emerging technologies” was a sober reminder that we have a
long way to go in most school districts.

It is also important to reemphasize that, while schools are finding value in
these tools, they are not all needed in all places. Districts need to continue
to give careful thought to technology purchases and not just “jump on the
bandwagon” with the latest, greatest thing. It’s easy to get swept up in the
hype – finding real value from your
technology investments
is much more difficult.

Finally, I
have written about this before
, but I continue to be concerned about the
slow pace of change in schools compared to society