Technology has always been a powerful tool in learning.

The earliest learning technology, writing, transformed learning from just the memorization of stories told by a few near by elders, to the study of many different ideas from many different people and from many different times.  Schools become places where written documents could be gathered, stored, cataloged, and taught.  Particularly because many of the oldest documents had to be handled with great care, access was strictly controlled.  So, learners had to travel to one of these schools in order to study these texts.

The next development in learning technology was the printing press and mass publishing.  Together they transformed learning from the controlled study of just a few ideas and just a few people, to the study of current events and ideas from a vast range of thinkers.  Ideas could now be reproduced and distributed to vast audiences.  Learners could access orders of magnitude more information.  Schools were no longer the only place books could be stored.  Individuals could create their own libraries and learning started to become much more personalized.

The domestication of the electron and the subsequent development of the Computer and the Internet has led us to today. Today information is available in virtually unlimited quantities and (because of the huge bandwidth available) from many different media.  No longer are there just a few publishers publishing static texts.  Today everyone is a publisher.  And we are updating those text at the speed of light.

The ability to seek new learning and acquire new skills brings personal growth to populations that have never had such capability.  In addition to just plain text, which was the learning source for the last number of centuries, we now have video, audio, and interactive media.

Today’s learning technology has birthed a learning environment where access to personalize learning tools can help all learning reach incredible new levels.

Finally, the more the community buys-in to this type of learning environment, the more the community will realize the benefits of improved learning experiences.

Here are five suggestions on how technology should be use to ensure learners have access to high-quality educational experiences.

  1. Technology should be used to personalize learning and give learners more choice over what and how they learn and at what pace, preparing them to organize and direct their own learning for the rest of their lives.
  2. Use the things we learned about our understanding of how people learn so we can apply the personal and contextual factors most impact their success.
  3. Apply understanding of what people need to know and the skills and competencies they need to acquire for success in life and productive work in the 21st century.
  4. Take advantage of availability of high quality interactive devices and applications to allow teachers to adapt assessments to the needs and abilities of individual learners and provide near real-time results.
  5. Technology has allowed us to rethink the design of physical learning spaces to accommodate new and expanded relationships among learners, teachers, peers, and mentors.