Perspective: Wes Molyneaux, Technology Integration
As the Director of Technology Integration, my job puts me at the crossroads between instruction and technology. This is an exciting place to be! Historically, technology was used in the educational arena as a tool to increase efficiency rather than truly change how students learn and demonstrate what they know. Computers have allowed teachers to write and edit quizzes, tests, and worksheets with increased efficiency. Email and social media have allowed teachers and school districts to communicate more effectively. Laptops, powerpoints, and projectors have increased the efficiency of work by allowing teachers to create content once and use it over and over again. Student devices like chromebooks and iPads have made it possible for students to type papers and complete worksheets digitally, increasing the speed and efficiency of class. All of these examples, while not comprehensive, demonstrate technology’s impact on procedures, teacher efficiency, and student organization. All of these advances, however, did little to move the “heavy lifting” of learning from the front of the room and the teacher into the hands of students where it belongs. Today our 1:1 technology program with iPad is focused on creating a more student-centered classroom. By placing the technology in the hands of the students, we can have higher expectations for what students can do.
In order for technology to enhance the educational experience for students, it must be seen as a tool for unlocking student potential rather than just as a tool to increase efficiencies. Teachers need to encourage student use of technology to move beyond accessing digital resources to promoting student creation, creativity, expression, and reflection. Creating digital artifacts allows students to demonstrate what they know in a variety of ways and promotes student reflection. This creative process is not only more engaging, but it also increases rigor across the curriculum by raising the bar of what we expect students to be able to produce. When students are asked to create something new, it promotes a deeper understanding of the content and requires them to use higher order thinking skills.
The goal of the technology integration department extends far beyond showing teachers and students how to use an iPad, Canvas, Seesaw, PowerSchool, and Google Docs. Our fundamental mission is to promote uses of technology that enhance the learning experience and increase student engagement. Schools need to become place where kids are excited to attend because they are challenged, treated with respect, and provided opportunities to tackle authentic problems. Classrooms should be places where students explore the wonders of the world while being challenged to create artifacts of their understanding in new and creative ways. I’m proud of the how far we’ve come in the two years since we’ve embarked on this journey as a district and I can’t wait to see the amazing things our teachers and students will do with these new resources at their fingertips!