Friday, January 8, 2016

Fast Forward: What does a future educational technologist look like?

In 2007, I was a part-time related arts computer teacher in an elementary school with a desire to learn more. That year, I received my M. Ed. in Instructional Technology. This was prior to tablets hitting the market and the big push to go 1:1 in schools was not yet commonplace. I remember in some of my classes I was taking I was dreaming about every student having access to their own device all day long. It seemed so foreign to the world I was living in at the time. That was 9 years ago.

In 2016, I am now in year three of being a technology coach/coordinator at the same school. I work with teachers to integrate technology in their classrooms in a variety of ways. Our students consume, create, connect, and curate using technology on a regular basis. We have rolling carts of iPads and Chromebooks at our disposal that are very busy. Our fifth graders this year actually went 1:1 with iPads. I see technology being used as a significantly useful tool in this elementary. I see teachers seeing value in the use of technology in their classrooms.

As I sit in my office, right next door is the office of the curriculum coach. On a very regular basis I hear her discussing some of the same things I am discussing with teachers- the value of standards-based learning, how blended learning benefits our students, what new website/software/app or option is out their to meet individual needs of our students. While the things that intrigue us may be different on these things, we both find ourselves looking closely at the same things often. I am thankful that she and I work really well together. There are days we have meetings that I think "wow, we tag team this very well." We share things we have heard about with each other often. She starts from the curriculum side of evaluating options and I see the options from a technology feasibility standpoint. But there are times when it is reversed. I see a curriculum need from being in a classroom and she sees where technology just isn't working for what we wanted for whatever reason.

It got me thinking, what will 2021 look like for educational technologists? What will be the needs here at this school? When I started working her in 2003 I was an instructor of keyboarding. My role, responsibilities, and expectations were very exact. Look at how this has changed! I see things being asked of me that I am not equipped to answer yet because I have no training in these areas so I am on the fast track of learning these concepts to be the support I need to be. Technology integration opens the door for me to now need a good understanding of classroom management, standards based learning, curriculum mapping in terms of blended learning opportunities, and so on. What does the educational technologist look like in the future? Does the name go away because every teacher will be implementing it in various ways to meet needs? Does the position go away because teachers don't need the help anymore? OR....

Does this persona become something all together different in the next 5-10 years? Someone that takes part in any type of innovative change. I think in the future technology is going to be such a seamless part of the educational landscape that the needs that I am currently fulfilling here will become less and less. I do believe that the future will be initiatives where I walk hand in hand with innovative-minded educators that see a need and have a passion to try something new or different to find a solution. I see this role being a resource, support, encouragement, a pusher of new ideas. I see future educational technologists as an evaluator of work flow, a beta tester of buzz words, an educator that creates a safety net for challenges and change and lastly, a handholder for those that fear.