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Arkansas State University

Curriculum Leaders Shape the Learning Experience With Technology

Not so long ago, smartphones and other gadgets were the silent enemies of schoolteachers: Students would often use them during class to watch films, play games, send messages or even look up answers on tests. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools were already limiting phone usage to reduce distractions.

However, educators’ relationships with technology drastically changed after the pandemic necessitated a move to distance learning. Seasoned teachers and school leaders had to adapt quickly — a transition that wasn’t always smooth. After months of online learning and the return of in-person and hybrid classes, the question remains: What did we gain from this experience?

While technology brings challenges to the classroom, it also provides benefits. According to eLearning Industry, technology “has allowed for asynchronous learning, transcending geographic limitations and enabling students to access resources at their convenience.” This technology also helps educators “monitor student engagement, foster interactive and creative learning experiences, and promote human-centered education.”

Graduates of the Arkansas State University (A-State) online Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in Educational Leadership, Curriculum Director program have the skills to use technology for student success, especially in a post-pandemic, highly digitized world.

The Digital Divide

Technology has proven it can be a power for good and a tool that delineates social disparity among school districts. Unfortunately, K-12 teachers are often caught in the “digital divide” — especially those in underserved communities. As schools closed and teachers began to implement remote work during the pandemic, students in lower-income households lacked appropriate access to technology, and “a lack of internet connectivity and digital skills negatively affected K-12 students’ ability to complete school work at home,” noted the World Economic Forum.

Since the pandemic, internet inaccessibility has forced children to catch up from a period of remote learning and navigate new digital learning. The eLearning Industry article notes the following challenges education leaders must address:

  • Access and infrastructure
  • Technological proficiency
  • Equity and inclusion
  • Digital literacy gaps
  • Privacy and security concerns
  • Pedagogical adaptation
  • Cost of acquiring technology

This digital divide is why educators must integrate technology into the classroom. Advanced education programs that emphasize educational leadership and curriculum and instruction (C&I) can give professionals the tools they need to foster technology access for all learners.

Educational Leadership Is Crucial

Even for experienced K-12 C&I leaders, ensuring technology access for all learners may be a daunting challenge. Using traditional teaching tools without technology hurdles may be appealing — especially if you’ve been doing so for many years.

Teacher Andrew Simmons speaks to incorporating technology into the classroom after the pandemic: “The temptation was to go back to the ‘Before Time,’ to simply unearth the old lesson plans in binders…but it feels odd to imagine forgetting what I’ve learned since. It’d be just as weird to insist on still entirely communicating and collaborating through devices when 30 people are sitting in a room together.”

There is a balance to using technology for learners appropriately. Being well versed in educational technology is a must for modern educational leaders. Professionals in education, particularly curriculum leaders, should refresh their knowledge and “tools of the trade.”

Students in A-State’s online Ed.S. in Educational Leadership, Curriculum Director program can do this by taking advantage of courses like Theories of Instruction or Curriculum Management. Both enable educational leaders to more consciously and naturally integrate technology with modern C&I strategies and design processes. Additionally, graduates in A-State’s program are prepared to be curriculum directors and manage school materials and resources, including “the evaluation and development of educational programs, textbooks, classroom technology, and teacher professional development.”

Using Technology to Support Curriculum Development

After accepting technology as a friend, not a foe, educators can shape curricula accordingly. When choosing hybrid learning or digital learning, the first step is to ensure that the minimum requirements for access are in place and that technological inequities will not impact student performance and outcomes.

To accomplish this goal, the Office of Educational Technology offers a guide detailing instructions, tactics and techniques. Among its highlighted topics are student privacy and security, health and wellness, and collaboration with parents and families. The author notes that “[w]ith your leadership, it is possible to maximize the benefits of digital learning for the students you serve now and in the future. Effective use of technology can address the impact of any learning losses experienced by students in the current environment and mitigate the prospect of future learning losses.”

With the right leadership, curriculum and instructional tools, educational leaders can effectively utilize technology for learners of all backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses and experiences.

Learn more about A-State’s online Education Specialist in Educational Leadership, Curriculum Director program.

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