It’s About the Student Not the Technology

With so much discussion about 21st Century learning goals, it is easy to shift focus to the technological advances and away from what really matters – the student.  As a technology company, we recognize that it’s not about us, it’s about the student. Helping students prepare for the 21st Century global economy does not mean just putting the latest technology fad in their hands.  Technology plays a role but only when its use promotes better learning outcomes.

Portrait of cheerful schoolgirl looking at camera while sitting in library

School districts want to harness the power of technology and help students achieve. There is no doubt that they are focused on improvement. Unfortunately, there is so much pressure surrounding student test scores that districts fall prey to the latest technology fads in an effort to improve performance standards.  Technology companies should be transparent and should be willing to partner with school districts in an effort to put students first.  This would be a first step in holding everyone involved accountable.

Perhaps the approach to technology should be different.  Districts would benefit more from being able to pilot programs to gauge the impact on small student populations before making huge investments. Technology companies need to be willing to support these efforts if they are truly in it for the students and their best interests. Technology in and of itself will not get students to the 21st Century.  It requires thoughtful action on the part of the stakeholders.  Maybe it’s time to have those discussions with technology companies in order to make sure that what they bring to the table actually enhances teaching and learning. After all, it’s about the students not the technology.


Barbra Thoeming Director of Education Strategy at Thrivist, LLC