Planting Seeds for a Better Tomorrow
[Written by Wendy Jones, Instructor for the MEd in Educational Technology & Innovation]
I am proud to be a professor for the new Master of Education (MEd) in Educational Technology & Innovation at Concordia University Texas.
As a lifelong educator, I have seen trends come and go. I have seen ups and downs in the economy. But in my wildest dreams, I never would have imagined the experiences we faced in 2020. Throughout the year, we witnessed changes, adapted to circumstances and felt setbacks.
How we adapt to those setbacks is up to each one of us. It reminds me of a Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” Through the MEd in Educational Technology & Innovation, Concordia is leveraging the lessons learned from 2020 to plant seeds today.
Shifting to Virtual Learning
The pandemic not only provided the longest spring break in history, but it also opened a window into challenges in our educational system. The teachers around the globe did an amazing job facing the trials head on; however, some obstacles were beyond their control.
Shifting education from face-to-face instruction to virtual learning provided a host of struggles, including access to devices and internet, centralized delivery methods across campuses, districts, colleges and universities, and the skills needed for teaching and learning in an all-digital world.
Leadership at both K-12 and higher education levels stepped up. They developed systems and processes to get access to students, provided resources to teachers and ensured safety protocols along the way.
Higher education systems for the most part already had a learning management system in place. Not all professors were adept at leaning into the new system, but they had the support needed to be successful.
At the K-12 level, there was a mixture of programs that teachers used. Some districts had a learning management system, while others did not. Teachers did not have the training or skills to teach entirely online. And households with multiple family members who needed to be online found it challenging to juggle access to devices, internet bandwidth and support throughout the house.
Through the transition from emergency remote learning to a virtual/hybrid approach, many lessons were learned.
Virtual learning requires a variety of strategies to increase engagement for all students to be successful. Simply moving your teaching practices from face-to-face to online does not guarantee that students are actually learning.
Assessment strategies need to adapt to provide an authentic measure of academic progress, incorporating checks along the way to ensure they are shifting from surface-level learning to a deeper understanding of the content.
Various funding streams helped to provide additional device and internet access, but there is still much to be done. The COSN 2021 Driving K-12 Innovation Report highlights that digital equity is one of the barriers to driving innovation in education today. As a nation, how do we ensure our students have the digital foundations (including internet and device access), conditions for learning and meaningful learning opportunities across the board?
As we prepare tomorrow’s leaders at Concordia, Dr. Sarah Martinez and I are preparing two summer courses for the MEd in Educational Technology & Innovation: Assessing Performance with Technology and Supporting Diverse Populations with Instructional Technology.
As we look at the challenges faced in education over the last year, we embrace the opportunity to change education moving forward. If, as educational leaders, we do not incorporate lessons learned from our shift to virtual learning, take the successes, address the areas that did not support our students and rise to an enhanced way of teaching and learning, then we have done our students a disservice.
When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. However, the second-best time is today. With our first cohort of MEd in Educational Technology & Innovation, we are planting seeds for tomorrow. We look forward to many more cohorts to come. The world needs more teachers like you!
Meet Wendy Jones
Wendy Jones is the director of Strategic Partnerships at Kincaid Information Technology, working to improve the K-12 learning environment through technological solutions.
She is a certified education technology leader (CETL) and has more than 30 years of experience in education, bringing valuable insights into the classroom.
Discover more about the Concordia University Texas MEd in Educational Technology & Innovation today.