Letter: Technology For Learning At New Canaan High School

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To The Editor: 

We have entered into a technological age that has changed the way we live, work and learn. Thanks to the explosion of personal mobile devices and the ubiquity of wireless coverage, we are now part of an interconnected world – with its benefits and banes. The rapidity of this infusion of mobile technology is unprecedented. Consider, for instance, that it took 75 years for the telephone to reach 50 million users; 38 years for radio; television took just 13 years; and, it took only three years for Apple to sell 67 million iPhones (MIT Technology Review, 2012). 

This access to mobile technology, coupled with the pace of change, presents opportunities for our students and our schools. As a result, we’ve begun to explore fundamental questions about the effective use of technology for learning. For instance, consider a classroom of students with mobile devices instead of a textbook. With this instantaneous access to the collected knowledge of the ages. how can teaching and learning be improved?

Mobile technology provides never-before access to information, and the skills required to locate, evaluate and utilize this information are the keys to success. Instead of dispensing knowledge, teachers are implementing instruction designed to prepare and empower students to ask, and answer, questions. They are teaching students the skills necessary to be discerning consumers and responsible producers of information, and they are working as instructors, coaches, mentors, and guides. Students are engaged in utilizing appropriate technology as they research, collaborate, create, communicate, and evaluate works. Classrooms are active, students are engaged, information access and knowledge creation is prized, and learning occurs everywhere for everyone.

As we look to integrate today’s technological tools into classroom pedagogy and our school-wide environment, there are important issues. For instance, we must continuously reflect upon and evaluate our short- and long-term goals to ensure they are aligned with our central mission. We are inspired by the opportunities to enrich the educational experience. By reflecting, evaluating, planning, and implementing, we are improving in our ability to differentiate instruction and personalize the learning experience as we prepare each of our students to excel in the world.

The underpinnings of a first-class learning environment are different from yesterday’s classrooms. Our network infrastructure is designed for a world where a teacher plugs a computer or two into, sometimes uses the technology for instruction, and occasionally brings students to a “computer-lab” environment. Today, that is inadequate, and our infrastructure is an impediment to reaching our students’ educational goals.

Where a network previously had to support a few hundred devices, today's networks are required to simultaneously support thousands of devices. We are pushing data through the network at incredible speeds. We must design and implement a network infrastructure that will support today’s needs, provide for tomorrow’s possibilities, and enable us to improve in the future. Thus empowered, educators can create and leverage policies, protocols, and practices that make such a system meaningful and appropriate to our educational mission and community.

We are in a technological revolution that continues to change how we live, work and learn. By keeping our goals in mind, we can help ensure that these new technologies help all of our students excel. By shifting from technology for instructing to technology for learning, we are empowering students to be engaged in their own educational experience, and preparing them to positively impact the dynamic and unpredictable world ahead.

Bryan Luizzi, Ed.D. Principal, New Canaan High School

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