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Monday, January 04, 2016

The 3 Things I’ll Say About EdTech In 2016

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Dr. Joshua Kim, Director of Digital Learning Initiatives at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL) writes, "In 2016 I will say 3 things about the intersection of learning and technology. Call it message discipline. Call it a lack of imagination. Ask if I’m only saying 3 things why I can’t be replaced by a robot or a well-trained gorilla. Say what you want, but I will continue to say these 3 things:"


1 - A Liberal Arts Education Is the Most Valuable Type of Postsecondary Education:
Where do college professors want their children to go to school? The answer - liberal arts colleges. A 2011 study found that the offspring of faculty were twice as likely to attend a liberal arts school than children of parents earning over $100,000 a year. 

People who work in higher education understand that the most important aspect of the undergraduate experience is learning how to learn. Tomorrow’s jobs will be different from today’s. Those able to succeed in the cognitive economy will have a strong foundation of analytical and social skills. The ability to gather and synthesize information, to make persuasive arguments using evidence, and to build strong relationships and coalitions across cultural, organizational and geographical barriers will determine success in the labor market.

If today’s liberal arts schools are so well matched to tomorrow’s labor market, why is it then that not everyone tries to attend a liberal arts college? My hypothesis is that those of us who work in liberal arts schools have not done enough to make our case. We have been too slow to connect the demands of a globalized and technologically driven economy with the classic education that one receives at a strong liberal arts institution. Thought leadership in educational technology (with some exceptions) has not traditionally come out of the liberal arts world. In 2016 I hope to push for a liberal arts orientation to educational technology.

2 - Learning Is a Relationship:
Why should the edtech profession adopt the mantra that learning is a relationship? Isn’t edtech all about scale? About efficiency and productivity? Unfortunately, our edtech profession has done far too little to build strong relationships with educators. We have too easily adopted the language and affectations of the tech culture (calling for disruption and pushing to scale), and done too little to listen to the needs and goals of the educators and learners that we should be serving.

If resources were limitless the first thing that I’d do is get rid of all the technology. If every class could meet around a seminar table then that would be ideal. Give me an oval table, an experienced and well-supported educator, and 12 curious students - and I’ll rip out every single piece of campus technology.

The reality, of course, is that we operate (and educate) under conditions of scarcity. Not every class can be a seminar, not every student can work and live full-time on our campuses. The promise of learning technologies, included blended learning and online learning, is to try to make as much learning as possible feel like a small seminar. We need to do everything we can so that faculty in larger and distant classes can build individual relationships with their students. We need to find ways to best use precious classroom time for interaction, collaboration, and coaching - while spending less time on one-way content delivery.
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Source: Inside Higher Ed (blog)

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