Interview with Haris Papamichael (Part II)
This is a continuation of our interview with Haris to get his take on how technology is impacting education today.
As the Director of Educational Technology at Victory, Haris oversees all the educational technology projects at Victory from concept definition through planning and release. In order to best deliver quality products to learning companies, Haris stays on top of the constantly changing technology trends.
Rebecca: Currently many states and districts have requirements for online courses. How do you think this will impact the concept of “school”?
Haris: There will certainly be greater emphasis on online learning, as each year we’ve seen an increase in the number of online learning courses. That is no longer just a trend within higher education. Teachers are growing more comfortable acting as a facilitator. This means that there will be more collaboration and independent learning programs as students are allowed to plot their academic course of study.
The traditional role of the teacher will not disappear. Although traditional teaching, or direct instruction, is still a predominant model, there are now many alternative instructional methods, such as flipped classroom, blended learning, project based, and constructive to name a few. I think technology is a big component and driver of all of these different methodologies.
Rebecca: What are your thoughts about the new initiative for technology literacy in schools?
Haris: I think it is fantastic. It’s a good example of something happening for the right reason and at the right time. When I think of technology literacy, I think of coding.
There is a big initiative now to teach coding in schools. Students, whether they are in elementary, middle, or high school have the technological knowledge to learn coding. It encourages students to be problem solvers and increasingly analytical in their thinking. These higher order thinking skills are enhanced by students’ experience with technology. The way students use technology is intuitive. It is reflected in how they approach and respond to their learning.
Learning to code is a valuable skill needed to work in today’s world where most jobs are now integrated with technology. For those students who have a passion for writing code and creating programs and games, this is a good way to establish the foundation their future professional life. While coding is not for everyone, more and more students are heading in this direction. Such skills will be an asset in the 21st century workplace.
Rebecca: Do teachers and school leadership have the tools and support they need to effectively integrate educational technology into schools and transform learning?
Haris: Teachers and administrators face limited budgets, a lack of program training, and professional development with respect to online learning programs. These issues can significantly impact the use and implementation of technology in the classroom.
Furthermore, for technology to be successful within schools, everyone has to be on board. There needs to be technology infrastructure to support the educational goals, and the appropriate professional development and training in place.
In many ways, technology creates a two-way street in learning and a switching of roles. Teachers can learn from the students how they use technology. Have the students be part of the teaching. This helps and supports the use of technology in the classroom. And in some ways it is more important when students take on the role of the teacher, when appropriate. It trains them how to share information and model learning. If all of these things are in place, technology will be integrated effectively.
Rebecca: How has EdTech changed and improved over the years?
Haris: The world of EdTech has changed and improved dramatically. I remember in 1995, I used to travel around the country doing workshops with teachers to help them implement science and math simulations into their curriculum. We started each workshop by describing the parts of the computer to teachers before we began to talk about science and math simulations. Our industry didn’t have much experience in using technology in the classroom at that time. Many teachers were uncomfortable with technology.
Now, technology is a typical component in many classrooms. Both teachers and students are expected to have a certain level of technological knowledge and should be encouraged to explore effective digital learning tools. EdTech has come a long way and I am excited to see what EdTech trends are coming next.