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Learning Online with Education Technology

In a book entitled "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success", author Carol S. Dweck points to motivation as an even greater indicator of success than previously thought.  More often, she proposes, success in one's work comes as a byproduct of one's passion. 

It's true, findings indicate that the most successful people are those who would be doing the exact same job even if they weren't successful at it. In education, this means that the most successful teachers are likely to be those who actually enjoy teaching and thus approach their jobs with passion. 

Given this, the goal of any educational system should be to put passionate teachers in front of students. New developments in online learning and education technology make it possible for passionate teachers to reach far more students than they ever could in a physical classrooms. Sounds good, right?
 
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Well, in a post promising to "Get to the Bottom of #Edtech Hysteria," former teacher Shaun Johnson issues a very condescending assessment of education technology.  He equates embracing education technology with handing the classroom over to mindless automatons who have a hidden agenda. 
Johnson writes: 

"There's an underlying 'disruptive' strain to #edtech that is, from my perspective, disconcerting. It seems that certain proponents of #edtech are pushing technology in order to completely 'teacher-proof' the classroom. That is, altogether remove teacher judgment and autonomy from the equation. Let us not pretend that this is something new; we've seen this before with "programmed instruction." Sure, the technologies are more sophisticated, but the intentions are similar."

Johnson seems to be asserting that there are no teachers at all behind the push to embrance education technology and online learning. Fortunately, teacher Laura Hilliger sets the record straight in a piece written for Zythepsary.
 
"We all know there’s good and bad to everything, and technology is no exception."

While most people sympathize with the plight of skilled workers who've been replaced by computers, even more people admit that they do their jobs more effectively through the help of technology. Not to mention all the people whose job descriptions would not exist without technology.

Even if we could return to the days of apprenticeships and guild associations, none of these arguments against technology have anything to do with education... in particular music education.  Education technology does not replace teaching.  On the contrary, education technology supplies more options and greater efficiency to teachers. In turn, the best teachers are empowered to reach the widest audience of students. 
 
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Hilliger's assessment gets right to the point: 

"You can’t blame educational technology for the governments policies on standardized testing or the implementation of those policies... It’s not about replacing chalkboards with interactive white boards, it’s not about replacing teachers with systems that can’t respond to a learners individual needs. It’s about creating an environment where learners have access to multiple perspectives and processes, where they can explore ideas, where they can play and tinker and create. It’s about creating an environment where learners can fail gracefully and, through the help of facilitation, learn how to succeed the next time around. It’s about bringing the benefits of our global knowledge ecosystem into the classroom so that learners learn how to live and be in today’s world."

Moving beyond the blogosphere, Hilliger references a study by the U.S. Department of Education for scientific support of a systematic overview of more than a thousand empirical studies on online learning from 1996-2008. The analysis shows that students in online learning courses actually performed better than students receiving instruction face-to-face. So it seems education technology is here to stay, and not just "for better or worse." When used by the better teachers, education technology is likely to produce better students. 

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