I’m occasionally asked why I’m so passionate about technology in schools. It can admittedly cost a lot of money and for what real advantage?
It’s a GREAT question. And it’s one that I’ve given a fair amount of thought to over the years — even more so in the recent past. You can read some of my thinking in some recent blogs that I’ve written on the topic:
- Ed Tech – Like the Weather, It Changes Constantly
- Artificial Intelligence Is Here – Time to Buckle up!
- VR – Is it Really Worth All of the Hype?
For me the question isn’t really ABOUT the technology — it’s about the effect that technology can have on the learning or lives of those it impacts.
I was at a conference recently when a really cool phone app was discussed called “Be My Eyes”. I’d never heard of it and was instantly enamored by how it had the capacity to dramatically change people’s lives — for me, it captured the essence of how technology can sometimes be a game-changer.
The Be My Eyes app uses the concept of live video to help thousands of visually impaired persons around the world. Here’s how it works:
- Both Visually Impaired Users and Volunteers sign-up to the phone app service.
- When a request comes in from a User requesting assistance this triggers the phone app to contact a number of volunteers.
- The first Volunteer to respond to the the request notification gets connected.
Take a peek:
I signed up as a Volunteer on May 11th and had my first connection to help someone about a week later. The entire call lasted about 2 minutes. The User who I connected with had dropped her coffee press on the floor and she was afraid she might step on it while looking for it. She accessed the phone app, I accepted the connection, we chatted briefly and she then scanned the floor service with her phone’s camera so that I could find her coffee press.
2 minutes of my time.
Amazingly Simple Technology + Easy Activation can equal Enormous Benefit
This is a perfect example of how technology can be transformational to a person and their ability to function throughout their day.
So, how does this relate to schools and technology?
Admittedly, not all technology use will likely be this transformational for the end user. But, the technology that we invest in should have a purpose that would otherwise not be possible if it weren’t being used. For example, by investing in a robust network infrastructure we provide reliable access to the virtual world where learning can happen in a multitude of new ways.
Technology isn’t the answer – Technology is the tool we use to GET to the answer.
Now, if you choose to sign up for the Be My Eyes app I do have a word of caution. There are currently over 82,000 Visually Impaired Users who have signed up, but over 1.4 million Volunteers wanting to help.
You may need to wait awhile to actually assist someone. But isn’t that a great problem to have?
The power of technology is in its ability to change people’s lives in ways not previously possible.