Letters From the President: Why Content is Key

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is James Rena and I am the head honcho over here at Standard Deviants. You may applaud. Or not. Do whatever you wish, really. This post will be the first of my own series of posts giving you my perspective on edtech goings-on as someone who has been in the business for quite awhile. So, let’s begin.

A recent article on TeachThought detailed the ways in which education technology will improve in the year 2013. It asserted a few essential points, but mainly that technology is advancing very rapidly, an amazing rate. Moore’s Law plays into education technology as much as it does any technology. An easy point to agree with. My only problem, therefore, with the article is that it fails to discuss content.

The general public has a tendency to be very excited by the shiny object – technological devices with bright screens and loud speakers and a few particularly shiny bits. These are cool, of course, but the very nature of this article points out a fact which many ignore: we read and hear almost nothing about creating better educational content versus creating a better platform to present it on.

Technology, specifically in education, is primarily a tool to augment the teaching. It may be a lot less shiny to discuss designing better ways to explain different concepts, but it’s a much bigger issue at hand. If newfangled devices are being used to present the exact same information, in the same way, excepting a brighter and bigger screen, than who’s to say learning is in fact improving?

People forget we’ve basically been learning the same way for thousands of years. Yes, that’s right, since the time of cavemen and ice ages we have fundamentally been teaching the younger generation in the same way. Technology today allows for slightly better interactivity, perhaps a bit more efficiency, and allowing for increased customization, but we’re still learning in the same way. We have improved our interactivity, and our reach, but not the learning process itself.

This article doesn’t talk about how technology is improving the learning process, we don’t talk about it. And maybe that is because when we get down to it, it’s really not. What it all comes down to is content. Forget the window-dressing, we ought to be focusing on teaching better and we can teach better by offering students better content.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I agree with everything the article said. It simply left me saying: “So what?”