NECC Session: Why Does Technology Work or Not Work?

Why Does Technology Work in Some Districts and Not Others? I had that same question, so I attended a session at NECC with that very title. Presenting is Cheryl Lemke, CEO of the Metiri Group, a consulting firm dedicated to advancing effective uses of technology in schools.

Cheryl says that districts should have a shared vision of 21st Century Learning. What is it that you are really trying to accomplish in your school? Instead of actually developing a technology plan, develop a vision statement about digital learning. Teachers at my school, Willowdale Elementary, have done this and the entire staff is on board with Willowdale's vision.

Cheryl lists 21st Century Skills:

  • Digital-Age Literacy
  • Inventive Thinking
  • Effective Communication
  • High Productivity
You've probably heard those people that say there is no research to say that technology does not improve achievement. Not so. The Metiri Group has research listed on what works, what's promising, and what they cannot recommend.

Research suggests that teachers who assign intellectually interesting work have students who make more grains in achievement. What does it mean to have intellectually stimulating work? There's relevance beyond the school day. Also, there's deep inquiry involved. The third is knowledge construction.

It takes a teacher 25 times before they put something into real practice in their classrooms. That takes a lot of leadership and professional development time!

One type of use of technology doesn't make for great integration. Technology should be used for a variety of tasks, simple to complex, and for a range of activities from drill/skill to constructivist.

Unfortunately, Cheryl does not yet have the web page for this presentation online. It will appear on the right side of this page.

Cheryl presented lots of tips and some real-world examples. She also shared some research collection that was over my head. I do think the question of why does technology work in some places and not others is an important one that everyone should consider. I wish I was able to take the ideas shared in this session and distill them into something easy for my blog readers to digest, but there were a lot of ideas coming at me. But, I'm left with something I already knew: it's not the technology, it's how you use it that makes a difference in learning. The session began at 3:30 ended at 4:30 Pacific Time.

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