Technology in Education : In conversation with Will Richardson
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a former 22-year public school educator who has two teenagers and who started blogging about education way back in 2001. You can see all 3500+ blog posts on my site at willrichardson.com.
How did you first get involved in education?
I was originally a journalist but always had a calling for the classroom to work with kids. As with many people, I had a great English teacher in high school who inspired me to pursue teaching.
What keeps you interested in Education and Edtech?
I think this is one of the most interesting and fascinating moments in history when it comes to learning and education. For the last 15 years, I’ve been totally absorbed with the questions of how schools must change in the era of the Web. I don’t see a clear answer to that, but trying to figure that out is what keeps me reading and writing and connecting.
How do you keep your listeners engaged while giving a speech?
I really try to push their thinking, get them out of their comfort zones (without scaring them) and challenge them to reflect on their work and the new contexts for learning in the modern world. I think we in education have been too complacent to accept past practices, and we need to shift that. I also try to use humor and stories to cut the tension a bit. But, I’m trying to push people, no question.
Could you tell us about your upcoming workshop “Creating a Modern Vision for Teaching and Learning With Technology”?
Too often, schools buy technology without any real understanding of the potentials for amplifying the agency of the learner to learn. This workshop takes participants through a process of developing a vision for teaching and learning with technology that embraces the new contexts for learning in the networked world.
How important do you think technologies like ERP, LMS are for a school or an institution?
I think these technologies can help teachers and students to learn more powerfully if used in ways that, again, move agency over learning to the learners, whether adults or kids. Too often, however, they are used to support a more traditional story of education in schools.
How important is it for present day educators to be informed about new emerging technologies in the education space?
I think it’s absolutely crucial that educators are fluent and comfortable with technologies for learning. But they must also stay abreast of changes in the future of work, the shifts in post-secondary education, and the larger impacts on the modern world, (environmental, political, etc.) School is not now so much about knowledge as it is preparing kids to live in a fast-changing world where access to knowledge, teachers, and technologies to learn are increasingly ubiquitous.
In “Freedom to Learn” you discuss how students sometimes or at most times are not engaged in the classroom, how do you think technology has helped overcome this problem?
I think technology in and of itself is a poor response to the “engagement problem” in schools. Engagement comes when kids are doing work that matters, work that has a real purpose in the world, work that is of a personal interest. Without that, no amount of technology can truly raise engagement in classrooms.
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