Sunday, November 18, 2012

Using Technology to Empower

Last week I participated in a webinar led by Karen Cator, Director of Educational Technology for the United States Department of Education as part of the Global Education Conference. Cator made a distinction between the use of technology for entertainment and the use of technology to empower one's life.

I've been thinking about that distinction, and wondering about the ways we can use technology in schools today to empower students' ability to learn, solve problems, create and communicate.  In what ways can technology give students the tools to brighten their lives and strengthen their skill and direction.

I've also been thinking about the ways that I can better use technology to empower my own life?  In what ways do you use this amazing tool to make your life better?

For starters, I currently utilize technology in the following ways.
  • To gain inspiration.
  • To learn of new ideas and old.
  • To try out and experiment with new ways of learning.
  • To expose myself to the arts: music, dance, visual arts and others that I have not had the chance to explore in my life.
  • To listen to wonderful life stories and lessons through Ted Talks and other venues.
  • To share ideas and information.
Then there's the unintended benefits of technology including the following:
  • I can read and think so much faster now due to my use of Twitter and Twitter chats.
  • I am able to avail myself to experts in many fields due to the connections I've made online.
  • I've reduced the time I spend on paperwork since I can do most of it online.
In the morning, almost everyone in my family picks up their computer, checks in with family and friends near and far, reads the news that interests them and plans their day.  

As I write, I listen to Vivaldi's beautiful music which awakens my mind and ideas.  

How do you enlist technology to empower your own life and the life of your students? And where do the arenas of empowerment and entertainment intersect, and what is the importance of that intersection?  These are important questions as we move towards a learning world that is much different than the education world we knew as young children.