Emerging tools

Technology in education is a complex topic. Districts like to talk about all the technology their districts are implementing, but the reality is that less than 1% of the $1.3 trillion spent on Elementary, secondary and post secondary education is used for technology in education (Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Weigel, M., Clinton, K., & Robison, A. J.. 2009). Jenkins et al. (2009) point out that even with the immense  role technology now plays in everyday life, there hasn’t been any large company to emerge in the education field nor have there been any transformative changes in education.

I recently spoke with my son to get more insight on this from a students perspective. He said he felt that student need more opportunities to create. He felt that having the ability to create things like videos and stories would be a fun way to be working on writing and presenting material learned. My son said these are things that he and his friends are doing in their own time, and would find more exciting than writing a paper. 

I thought my conversation with my son was interesting in that it reflected what I read in the article by Jenkins,, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton, & Robison, (2009). They shared that in a 2005 PEW Internet and American Life project, more than half of all American teens and 57% of teens who use the internet could be considered media creators. This is significant. Engaging in technology is being more prevalent each year with our young people. Jenkins et al. (2009) remind us that historically our society had valued creative writing and artistic expression and believed that every child deserves the opportunity to express themselves, even if they aren’t going to become artists or performers.  Technology should be approached in the same manner. It has become a way for students to express themselves and they are good at it. Not only will it allow for artist expression but they will learn about working with different forms of technology and learn to adapt their technological knowledge to adjust for variations in applications. 

 Technology has the potential to  provide opportunities for students to create and be hands on in their learning experiences. How do we go about adopting this emerging technology into our instruction? 

One of the first things I think that needs to be considered ,and I have seldom heard it mentioned, is the fact that instructors are often trying new technology for the first time along side their students. This puts them in a new position of learning with their students versus being the expert they typically are portrayed as being. For some instructors this can be intimidating. They can struggle with the idea that they don’t have all the answers and that they are going to have struggles. In ED655 we reflected on the different ways novices and experts navigate teaching in learning. In the article  by Benander, we learned that  experts and novice approach learning differently and that by putting the expert into the role of student they learn to view learning from a different perspective again and can help students learn to become experts. I believe this holds true with technology as well. Instructors are put into the role of student while still being the teacher. They are learning how to make something work, and because they are currently experience the same challenges as their students they will be able to relate and help guide them through the challenges of learning these new technologies.  

Another component that is often overwhelming and challenging is the idea of failure. in chapter 2 of Best teaching Practices with Emerging Technologies, Michelle Pacansky-Brock, explains that “….failure is tough. And professors don’t openly relish the opportunity to fail. Why would we? Professors are products of an educational culture that has taught us to discourage failure, to be ashamed of mistakes, to always be right” (Pacansky-Brock, 2012, p. 2). They same idea can be applied to k12 teachers. Many are worried about failing in front of their students or their parents. 

Once one faces the hurdle of deciding to implement emerging technology into their classroom there are some distinct benefit to students.  Emerging technology takes many forms, from various ways to create to games that engage the learner. Jenkins et al point out:

“When individuals play games, a fair amount of what they end up doing is not especially fun at the moment. It can be a grind, not unlike homework.The efforts allows the person to master skills, collect materials, or put things in their proper place in anticipation of a payoff down the line.The key is that this activity is deeply motivated.The individual is willing to go through the grind because there is a goal or purpose that matters to the person.When that happens, individuals are engaged, whether that be the engagement in professional lives or the learning process or the engagement that some find through playing games. For the current generation, games may represent the best way of tapping that sense of engagement with learning.”

Motivating students is key to learning. A student who is motivated will learn what is put before them. 

Another benefit is the potential to personalize learning to student needs. Weather it is for an intervention or personalization at a large scale model AI integrations and the increase in the number of schools that are 1:1 has made personalization in education more prevalent than in years past. Many school implement interventions that use AI supported platforms to address areas of struggle for students. For example,  a student may struggle in the area of reading, more specifically phonemic awareness. There are programs which will assess the student to determine which skills that student needs to focus on. Once assessed they will begin there. AS they work through the program, the system adjusts accordingly to support the individual’s needs with scaffolding or direct instruction as needed. 

With every upside, there is ways a downside technology is no different.  Schools have many obstacles when it comes to implementing technology into instructional practices. From acquiring the products to security.

In the article, Education Technology: Could it be Different this Time?, Umang Gupta explains that the educational industry is heavily regulated and that there is strict oversight by the community, state and Federal government. This means that any spending on technology is forced to go through a laborious process to ensure that the technology works appropriately and that it is free from corruption (Gupta, 2014). In conjunction to this many schools have limited IT resources, so they work with vendors to set up the whole system which can take months (Gupta, 2014).

Another challenge facing educational technology is security. Schools are responsible for protecting their students’ data, which can include student id number to academic performance information. Which the challenges of acquiring the latest products it is not uncommon for teachers to sign up for outside resources, often allowing teachers to use a product free. By allowing the teacher to sign up directly it circumvents district procedures for data security and effectiveness (Singer, 2015). Teachers aren’t typically  equipped to appropriately decipher the security of an app and the information they gather (Singer, 2015).   

Considering all the challenges, benefits and impacts there are with emerging technology, It is important that we be open minded in considering what is best for our students. It isn’t a one size fit all situation. The opportunities for student engagement and learning are almost endless. Between the OER and the digital platforms their are multiple avenues for teachers to take in providing the opportunity for research and presentation of information.  I think that it is unrealistic to believe that districts are going to vet all apps teachers use in in the classroom, because there are always going to new apps and systems coming out that aren’t large enough to be on the districts’ purview. 


Benander, R. (2009). Experiential learning in the scholarship of teaching and learning (Links to an external site.)Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9(2), 36–41.

Gupta, U. (2014, September 28). Education Technology: Could It Be Different This Time?  EdSurge News. Retrieved October 15, 2020.

Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Weigel, M., Clinton, K., & Robison, A. J. (2009).  Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. MIT Press. Retrieved 5/27/2018.  5-11.

Pacansky-Brock, M. (2012).  Best practices for teaching with emerging technologies. Routledge.

Singer, N. (2015, March 11). Privacy Pitfalls as Education Apps Spread HaphazardlyNew York Times. Retrieved October 14, 2020.

5 thoughts on “Emerging tools”

  1. Melissa, I think the two points you highlight that consistently stand out to me are the 1% spending figure and the fact of teachers learning new tools along with their students.

    One thing to remember is that most new and emerging tools are always changing and often teachers and students have no choice whether they upgrade to a new version or not, or if privacy settings or fee structures are going to change. The move to a subscription model for a lot of these services and their cloud-based infrastructure makes it even harder to keep track and master certain technologies.


  2. I really liked how you used a conversation with your son to bring the student’s perspectives on technology in the classroom. It does show that younger people are interested in content creation and that it is just part of the culture that they are in. The disadvantages that you mentioned are also big concerns, especially security. It is hard to vet each tool or medium for the classroom, but with student’s personal data at risk – districts really have to look at the pros and cons.

  3. Melissa,

    I agree with Morgan in that it’s so wonderful to get your son’s perspective on this – I didn’t check, but I’m hoping you’ve included him as part of your PLN!

    I think one of the greatest challenges in learning new technology, other than having the time to learn it in view of all the other incoming, is having to demonstrate good change management. There are lots of process maps that demonstrate change management, but they don’t really incorporate the emotional components very well.

    In my professional life, I’ve equated change management to be similar to how we experience grief and loss as expressed by Kubler-Ross. In fact, her initial curve has now been renamed the change curve. I’ve included a link to her current work which incorporates the impact that COVID-19 is having on our lives – hope all find it useful.


    1. At your advice I did add my son(s) to my PLN. I actually spend a lot of time talking and bouncing ideas off them and I didn’t even think to include them .

      I enjoyed looked through your link. It is very accurate on how people process any type of change. I find that some people get stuck at certain points longer than others and it can impede the process. Applying this idea to the adoption of new tech, I think a lot of people get stuck at frustration and refuse to move forward.

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