Technology Integration Specialist
Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child
Q: Describe your philosophy on technology in education.
A: Technology certainly has a place in education, but its use should be related to how students learn and how technology can best meet the learning objectives. Although some technology activities may increase student engagement, it does not necessarily mean that students will learn from those activities. The understanding by design principles, or designing from the end goal first, is how educators should think, as opposed to, “Here’s this cool new technology tool, let’s implement it.” I think it’s very important to first understand the learning goals, especially because there may be an effective teaching method that does not require the use of technology.
Q: What are your goals for the 2018-19 school year?
A: Since I am new to Oak Knoll School this year, I have been assessing the technology curriculum and evaluating students’ skills. Students need to have strong file management skills and they need to be able to type with accuracy and speed. These skills are invaluable for all computer technology use.
I am also a huge believer in making global connections with other students around the world. Bringing classes together for a #mysterySkype has a huge impact on student engagement. Classes at OKS have already engaged in several Skype calls with other students in places such as Nebraska, Louisiana and Saskatchewan, CA. One thing I hear from students at the beginning of my classes is, “Do we have a #mysterySkype today?”
Q: Do you think students are more distracted or engaged by technology in the classroom? Explain.
A: For me, this question cannot really be divided into either/or. Students are both distracted and engaged. As soon as a teacher starts to lose his or her students’ interests or attention, their laptops/phones are there to distract them. At the same time, teachers are being challenged to find ways to utilize these tools so that students will be engaged. Students love to create. Giving them the opportunity to use digital tools to answer questions, have discussions, make video/audio recordings are all ways that technology can be used to engage and keep students on track. However, its use must be purposeful.
Q: What do you think will be the biggest technological impact on education in 2019?
A: Great question! Having recently completed my doctoral degree, researchers in the field of technology in education are fresh in my mind. One in particular, Larry Cuban, of Stanford, has a discussion, “The dubious promise of educational technologies: Historical patterns and future challenges” (2015) in which he explores the history of technological innovations and their impacts on teaching and learning. Despite the access to newer technologies, for the most part, teaching styles have changed very little. He cautions that, “too many cheerleaders for high-tech believe that hardware devices and software applications will revolutionize schooling practices. They, sadly, ignore or forget these lessons learned by earlier generations of reformers” (p. 430).
I think today’s reformers are caught up in the makerspaces, STEM learning and AI technologies. However, for these to have a big impact on education, teachers will need training and resources, which are not readily available in many schools.
For me, personally, I’d like to see more teachers participating in Twitter chats that are related to their teaching areas. For example, fourth grade teachers might learn from #4thchat or #satchat for administrators and other school leaders. I would never have learned the value of #mysterySkype or met numerous global connections without the professional learning I engaged in via Twitter.
Q: How can educators best support students in their use of tech in the classroom?
A: Educators should enlist the support of those who may be more knowledgeable in terms of integrating technology (e.g., experienced teachers, technology integrationists, media specialists). As a technology specialist, my goals include scaffolding support for teachers so they, in turn, can provide learning experiences that benefit their students.
In addition, while we know that our students have different needs, I think it is incumbent upon teachers to recognize that technology can be used to differentiate students’ learning experiences. Using an online tool such as Go Formative allows students to work through lessons at their own pace and provides feedback to teachers.
Talia Nochumson is Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child’s Technology Integration Specialist. She previously worked as a technology specialist at the Convent of the Sacred Heart and as an instructor at Bloomfield College. Nochumson earned a bachelor’s in psychology from Tulane University. She also earned a master’s degree in educational communication and technology from the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University. Nochumson later received a doctorate in education in instructional technology and media from Teachers College, Columbia University.