Reflecting on the 2022 Alabama Technology Conference
Every year, hundreds of technology directors, network engineers, and technology coaches across the state gather for the Alabama Leaders in Educational Technology Fall Conference. Members of the Alabama State Department of Education share important updates, and keynote speakers, like Mr. Fascinate, inspire everyone with personal stories on how technology has impacted their lives and those around them. Over the course of the 4-day conference, a common theme emerged from the sessions: It’s not about technology.
To unpack that statement, we need to look at the state of educational technology since Covid. Over 100 million ChromeBooks have been purchased in the past 3 years, an increase of 90% compared to the previous three. iPad sales increased 77% from January - March in 2021, totaling $7.8 billion. Through federal funding and generous district support, teachers and students literally have the world at their fingertips, as well as an endless supply of digital resources in the classroom. In Madison City Schools, every student has had a Chromebook for nearly a year, and the expectation is that teachers are utilizing this technology to support learning. But what does that actually look like if it’s not about technology?
For MCS, this looks like:
Clear learning goals, and effective, intentional instructional strategies.
Teaching students how to think, not what to think.
Creating an environment where students can be creative, collaborate, and think critically.
Engaging students in a variety of ways, including technology!
Teachers shouldn’t use technology everyday, just as they shouldn’t use the same instructional strategy everyday. Technology can be an incredibly powerful vehicle to deliver the curriculum, but it shouldn’t be the roadmap. This past week, technology leaders throughout the state echoed the importance of a “learning first, technology second” approach in every session. Weston Kieschnick, technology integration leader and author of Bold School: … Blended Learning that Works, says that "strategic technology use is when it is purposefully chosen for its ability to move teachers toward defined learning goals." So, as we collaborate about our implementation with instructional technology, our focus will be learning first, technology second.