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Educational Technology Is the Future of Learning

Photo: Courtesy of Digital Promise

Karen Cator

CEO, Digital Promise

As technology has become ever-present in our daily lives, educational technology (edtech) has become an essential learning tool. Our recent “Learning in the 21st Century” survey found that:

  • Eighty-five to 91 percent of parents, teachers, and the general public say edtech helps students get new information and ideas
  • Sixty-two to 72 percent say edtech helps students find new learning strategies
  • Fifty-three to 65 percent say edtech helps with organizational and task management skills

Students can access primary source documents, research just about anything, and support their own understanding with explanations accompanied by video, animations, or other helpful visualizations. Mobile devices let teachers and students move around the classroom and work one-on-one or in small groups. And accessibility technologies support learner variability by, for example, ensuring navigation and information display is available in multiple ways.

Educational gap

However, even as edtech is widely used in classrooms and evolving to more effectively support learning, our education system faces another great divide: the digital learning gap. The digital learning gap is caused by differences in how learners in and out of school not only access technology but also use it to improve learning opportunities and outcomes. To help ensure powerful learning opportunities are available to all and supported by technology, we must understand and work to close this gap. 

Powerful learning

Powerful learning is a set of principles that guide educators in designing experiences that engage the hearts and minds of learners, and incorporate technology in ways that contribute to reaching the full diversity of learners. 

The principles of powerful learning ensure that experiences are:

  1. Personal and accessible
  2. Authentic and challenging
  3. Collaborative and connected
  4. Inquisitive and reflective 

Using tech wisely

To be clear, edtech alone is not a magic wand that can boost educational achievement and satisfaction for each student. Nor should it be considered as a replacement for teachers. Instead, it must be woven into evidence-based powerful learning environments and experiences. Through coaching, continuous improvement practices, and opportunities to further their own learning, teachers can and should be fully supported as they tap into innovative edtech that helps students engage and achieve. 

Closing the digital learning gap and advancing the principles of powerful learning are big ideas in education that support continuous learning in a changing world. As we work to close this gap, technology will improve equity of opportunity regardless of location, learning differences, or age — and, if used in powerful ways, it will support learning how to learn for life. 

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