What do I think and why?
I've dedicated my career to learning about education and technology and the ways they can work most effectively together. The following is a short summary highlighting a few of these ideas although I fully recognize that they'll likely change over time due to my expanding professional and educational learning experiences.
1. Technology is an augmentation.
Technology, at its core, enhances our existing abilities. While technology can enable us to create amazing things, it requires that we start with our own spark of greatness. Technology cannot make anyone into a good educator, but the right educator paired with the right technology can cultivate incredible learning experiences for all stakeholders.
We need to recognize the importance of a strong foundation in educational theory and practice before we attempt to apply technology. Technology can amplify educational experiences that may be both good and bad, depending on the stakeholder. It should not be applied as a blind solution. Instead, it should be used to solve immense, complicated problems in strategic ways.
2. Technology should be easy.
Technology is often perceived as being difficult or unreliable. We often hear, "I'm just not a technology person." However, I believe that everyone can use technology to enhance her/his lives. People develop the misconception about technology being difficult or exclusive because of bad learning experiences with technology. Poorly designed user interfaces, faulty documentation, and unintuitive design choices can make users feel that it is their fault for failing to understand the technology.
As a technology advocate, it is critical to make technology easy, comprehensible, and accessible to all. Software and hardware development should employ universal design principles. Documentation should be clear, consistent, and concise. Above all, we should help create environments where people feel comfortable asking questions and experimenting in the unknown.
3. People > Technology
Technology is only one part of the equation. The most important factor is the people using the technology. It seems counterintuitive to force people to adapt convoluted practices to use technology. Rather, we should design technology and technology-based solutions to fit the natural workflows of people.
The best technology is invisible; it exists seamlessly and lets us work. We need to think carefully about who is using our technology and how they live and work. When we consider people first, we don't just create better technology for people; we create better technology, period.
4. Innovation Takes Dedicated Time
We need to approach innovation a distinct, important priority. Oftentimes, we try to say that we'll squeeze innovation into our free time or existing activities. However, this limits and hampers our ability to innovate and move in completely novel directions. If we do not dedicate time to innovation, there is always something else that is important to take care of.
An example I like to use is to imagine being dropped in the middle of a lake. You can expend all of your energy just treading water and stay where you are, or you can make the choice to swim to shore. Innovation takes dedicated energy to move forward, and that energy will be used by something else unless it is dedicated to innovation.
We should designate and defend specific time to experiment and innovate. If an organization or group can band together and agree to defend this time, innovation becomes a group priority and even more incredible things will happen.