Technology in the Classroom: Why Single-Point Solutions Won't Work
Technology promises to fundamentally transform how our teachers instruct and students learn. Advances made in digital resources can now help personalize students’ learning experiences, promote workplace readiness, heighten student engagement, and provide instant access to knowledge. While few can argue about the benefits of leveraging technology in the classroom, school districts continue to struggle with its successful and sustainable use.
The tremendous upside of technology, coupled with the absence of improved student achievement, continues to underscore the challenges and barriers to technology adoption in K–12. The most significant problem? Single-point solutions. Single-points solutions are technology that lacks the conditions and systems to support its effective use. Single-point solutions result when school districts fail to approach technology integration as a systematic, ongoing, comprehensive effort that requires coordinated foresight and participation among all stakeholders. These districts often take a linear approach to modernizing classrooms and attempt to address complicated problems (student achievement generally being the most common) by purchasing a product or service from a sole vendor. Examples include the purchase of laptop computers, access to curriculum, professional learning from a local nonprofit, or a learning management system.
Purchasing only one of these solutions—or purchasing them all and leaving it to the vendors to manage separately—can result in a lack of efficiency and effectiveness, ultimately resulting in a fragmented learning network and thwarting the very progress an organization is attempting to achieve.
Another common challenge with integrating technology in the classroom is attempting to transition to the modern learning environment without establishing awareness, participation, and accountability in the overall transition. The transition to modern learning environments doesn’t occur overnight. Rather, it requires careful thought, planning, and agreement upon a long-term vision from all stakeholders involved.
The only answer to single-point solutions is a unified approach to the selection, implementation, and integration of modern learning solutions. Digital Convergence—the transition from traditional classrooms to modern learning environments—follows a dynamic, iterative journey unlike the linear path of a single-point solution. Rather than viewing each aspect of the educational system individually, Digital Convergence treats a school district collectively, with various systems working together to create a healthy and productive environment for its stakeholders.
Unlike single-point solutions, which call for instituting tactical, short-term fixes, Digital Convergence requires a futuristic mindset. In order for students to successfully compete in today’s fast-changing, technologically-focused world, we must embrace technology in the classroom as the new normal. Technology provides tremendous value for both teachers and students, but only when it is integrated meaningfully and thoughtfully into the complex system that is a school district in the United States.