North Pocono's investment in educational technology is always done with specific goals in mind:
- Improving the educational process in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, relevance, and safety.
- Incorporating across the curriculum state-of-the-art technology skills that are essential to the future success of students.
- Creating a learning environment in which students are given extensive opportunities to learn, practice, hone, and master 21st-century workplace skills.
- Providing on-demand access to rich educational resources.
The changing nature of our world, our economy, and the arena in which our students compete after high school graduation demands constant adaptation in both the way we educate students and the content of that education. North Pocono has always offered a high-quality education: the need for change is not an indicator that the educational program at North Pocono has been flawed. Rather, it is an indicator that the traditional target of education has shifted. No longer will a traditional education built on four core subjects taught in isolation using a textbook-lecture-notes-test cycle prepare our students for future success. The obvious question is, then, "What does prepare students for future success in the 21st century?" A video first conceived by Karl Fisch, a technology specialist at Arapahoe High School in Littleton, Colorado (and since modified and developed by many in the educational technology field) called "Did You Know?" provides some perspective on this question.
Traditional education rewarded students for memorizing information, following a script, and working efficiently by themselves. The 21st-century workplace is not designed for those who excel at memorizing information, but those who can locate, analyze, validate, communicate, and innovate with information. It isn't designed for those who simply follow a script, but those who are creative, innovative, and problem-solving. It isn't designed for those who work in isolation and specialize in one area, but those who can effectively collaborate and communicate with a team while working in a wide variety of disciplines and knowledge domains. Technology plays a critical role in this picture. Technology is the platform, the medium over which information, creativity, innovation, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication happen in the 21st century. When the North Pocono School District stakes its mission on educating and challenging all students to their maximum potential to prepare them for the demands of a global society, technology is a piece critical for the success of that mission.
Contrary to popular opinion, however, owning massive technology resources as a district does not in and of itself improve education. It is essential that these technology resources be both used and used in the proper way in order to reap appreciable benefit. This requires extensive professional development, curriculum revision, preparation time, and leadership. When a school ensures that all of this is taking place, its students will reap great benefits from technology.
In short, technology is a tool that, when used properly, is of tremendous benefit to education...but it is only the tool. To quote famed educational technology leader Alan November:
"When hanging a picture, you go the hardware store to buy a drill bit to make the hole for the hook. You don't really need the drill, you need a hole, but the hardware store doesn't carry holes, only drill bits. While the drill bit is important, it is two steps removed from what really needs to be done, hanging the picture."
So, too, in education, technology is a tool. We do not use technology so that students become technology experts. Rather, we teach students to use technology tools so that they may apply those tools to learning and solving problems, something they will need to do for a lifetime to be contributors to our society.
For more information about 21st century skills, visit the website of The Parternship for 21st Century Skills. Please note that this link takes you to a site outside of the North Pocono website; the North Pocono School District is not responsible for the content of this site.