Superintendent’s Perspective: Educational Technology

A Closer Look at Educational TechnologySuperintendent Farr

Preparing students for the world they enter as adults is an important task and, quite honestly, a task which is inexact. Societal changes are happening at such a rapid pace that they make it hard to imagine what will be 5 or 10 years from now.

Rolling out our chromebooks and leveraging technology is an important part of 21st century learning. It is highly likely that computer programming will be a part of nearly every occupation in the next 10 years and therefore we must proceed strategically and thoughtfully. Putting this technology directly into the hands of our students is essential, but there is a lot more to it than just the machine.

There are three very important educational concepts that are in the mix here, and perhaps need to be mixed differently than in the past. These concepts are:

  • Blended Learning - leveraging online learning tools to enhance the educational experience, whether in class or at home
  • Personalized Learning -- differentiation in teaching approach to meet the needs of each individual learner, and
  • Competency Based Learning -- demonstrating what you know and moving on if competent; therefore, allowing a student to work at their own pace

Every school has a variety of needs. And the reality is, good pedagogical practices ought to include aspects of personalization, blended learning, and competency based learning.

But that isn’t all. Explicit instruction is important, direct instruction is important, collaborative learning is important, project-based learning matters -- the list goes on and on! Of course, there are critical “soft skills”, too, like building relationships with students and good classroom management. In the educational field, we recognize that the more pedagogical tools we have, the better we can meet the diverse needs of our learners. These are all tools our teachers need to utilize regularly. All of them! Not one singular approach, philosophy or learning target will be the stand alone answer.

Leveraging the chromebooks – now distributed to every student in Grades 6-12, with Grades K-5 to be covered with similar devices next year – is indeed a major component in shifting instructional practices and allowing kids to perform academically in manners never before conceived. But we should never lose sight of traditional forms of instruction as approaches that matter for kids, too.

We are a Braves Family, Canandaigua Proud!