Technology Toys to Tools

Jane Bozarth, author of the book “Social Media for Trainers,” is an expert on training and social media strategy and a dynamic presenter. You won’t want to miss Jane’s keynote presentation which kicks off WCET’s 24th Annual Meeting, October 31 – November 3, in San Antonio. Following is a blog from Jane about how emerging technology, when used effectively, can enhance teaching and learning.

One of the challenges with any emerging technology is the perception that it’s a problem, and this has only  worsened with the advent of social technologies. Blogs, back in the old days, were largely regarded as online one-person rant and argument spaces, not the remarkably easy web page creation tools they really are. Even today, those who don’t know the power of a good Twitter network still think of it as an online free-for-all with people randomly posting what their cats had for breakfast.
But in the right hands – of people who see the new technologies as the means of solving a problem, easing a pain point, or reaching a learner in a new way – these “toys” can be powerful tools.  Like the 2nd grade teacher who used Skype so the kids could stay in daily video contact with an 8-year-old classmate kept home when chemotherapy treatments left him susceptible to infections. Or the CEO, tired of hearing that the front line employees felt there were too many communication obstacles, began scheduling Google + hangouts so staff could drop in and chat with him for a moment. For learning? There’s microblog-based bookclubs, image-based learning experiences for low-literacy adult readers,  virtually all of whom own a mobile phone with a camera, constantly evolving worker-generated FAQs wiki pages for new hires,  and Facebook working as a reasonable facsimile (architecturally, anyway) for an LMS.
The challenge?  Looking past the hype at the potential benefits. Exploring the technology enough to understand it at its root. Identifying real gaps and problems in existing practice, and choosing the right tools to use when. In other words: leveraging the toys in ways to make them useful tools, not timewasters.

Want to know more?  Join me in San Antonio for the WCET Annual Meeting! Registration is open.

Read more about Jane and view the description of her keynote presentation.

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Megan Raymond, assistant director for programs and sponsorship at WCET, the leader in the practice, policy, and advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. She directs various events and programs including the Annual Meeting and WCET's monthly webcast series. Raymond builds relationships with corporate sponsors invested in the WCET community and edtech as the contact for sponsorship. She has been with WCET since 2007. Prior to this, she was the assistant director of housing and conference services at Fort Lewis College, a small liberal arts college in Colorado. She directed a successful conference program, adjudicated student conduct, and trained and managed 30 student staff members. If it weren't for her passion for improving access to higher education, she'd likely live in the remote mountains and spend her days exploring by bike or foot, fortunately she gets to do both as much as possible. She has a BS in marketing and a MS in Health and Nutrition Education

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