K-12 Tech Trends | Q&A

Technology To Watch: 5 Questions with Kathy Schrock

Schrock's Advice to School IT Directors

A passionate advocate of educational technology, Kathy Schrock said she urges her peers at other schools to do whatever they can to give teachers and students the tools they need to support instruction.

"My responsibilities in my district include both the infrastructure and instructional side of things," she told us. "Although I understand the need to keep networks secure and bandwidth flowing freely, I encourage other IT directors to allow teachers and students access to the great wealth of online tools, applications, and utilities that can be used to support instruction. Design networks and access to allow these collaborative tools and easy-to-use utilities to be accessible."

Anybody who follows K-12 education technology trends has surely run across Kathy Schrock and her opinions. This director of technology for Nauset Public Schools on Cape Cod in Massachusetts tweets almost daily (@kathyschrock), maintains a blog almost weekly ("Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch"), writes books (Developing Web Pages for Educators, among them), presents on technology in numerous workshops, and runs the "Guide for Educators," a portal of education technology resources started in 1995 and hosted by Discovery Education since 1999.

During her time in the public eye, Schrock has seen hundreds of products that promise to change how education is done in the classroom. She's also been witness to dozens of predictions portending major shifts in how technology will change students, teachers, and schools. Some of those have fared better than others and others have been total surprises, as she told us in this interview.

Schrock will be speaking at two sessions on these topics at the FETC 2011 conference, being held Jan. 31 through Feb. 3, 2011 in Florida: "Connecting Your Classroom to the Future: Predictions and Predicaments" and "Curing What Ails You: A Dose of Twitter for Every Day of the Year."

THE Journal: What's the biggest education tech prediction of the last five years that has fallen flat on its face?

Kathy Schrock: I don't feel any prediction has actually fallen flat on its face, but a few things predicted five years ago are still not as well developed as I was hoping they would be by this time. The one item I'm waiting to be "wowed" by is the digital textbook, which both has the traditional content but also includes all the interactivity of 3D simulations, embedded expert interview videos, and a collaboration component. These texts are on their way and, hopefully, will work on all platforms and form factors of hardware.

THE Journal: What technology is having a remarkable impact that never really made it onto the prediction radar at all?

Schrock: The Web 2.0 revolution--made possible because of the development of back-end software design--has come to play a large role in K-12. The most remarkable aspect of this is the collaborative components of these tools. Teachers and students can easily participate and grow from a personal learning network they create.

THE Journal: As a director of tech and a public person you no doubt get voluminous amounts of e-mail from tech vendors that want you to know about what they're selling. What does it take to grab your attention these days?

Schrock: I have always looked at all hardware and software offerings with an eye to how they could support teaching and learning meaningfully. I continue to view new technologies through that same lens. But now I look for products that target a single aspect rather than an entire solution that does one thing really well but does the rest only marginally. Today it's easier and more cost efficient to mix-and-match hardware and software to address a specific need, process, or skill.

THE Journal: You're a gadget queen. Tell us about a gadget you think we ought to know about.

Schrock: My current favorite gadget--and my choice changes frequently--is the IPEVO Point2View document camera. This $69 document camera, in conjunction with a computer and a projector, is great for projecting student-written work for editing, sharing a portion of a text or photograph with the whole class, capturing a movie of the little bug in the Petri dish, or for showing a computer tablet screen as you teach how to use it. It comes in handy for many things in any K-12 classroom.

THE Journal: Last question: Share a prediction! Tell us one thing you think will happen in education technology over the next five years....

Schrock: I predict, in educational technology, in the next five years, all students will have an age-appropriate personal information/creation/consumption device with them 24/7. The result of students having access to information at all times will truly engage them as collaborators and participants in the instructional process.

Schrock will be speaking at the FETC 2011 conference in January and February 2011 in Orlando, FL. Further information can be found on the FETC's site here.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.