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Educators on EdTech: Valuing Exploration

EducationWorld is pleased to present this interview by Maggie Summers. She writes about educational technology for Anthro Corporation, a company that designs and manufactures furniture for technology in Portland, OR. The interview features Rushton Hurley, founder and executive director of Next Vista for Learning, which houses a library of more than 1,000 free videos made by and for teachers and students. A former Japanese language teacher, Hurley speaks at conferences around the country to help teachers discover how digital media can transform their classrooms.

Can you tell us a little bit more about Next Vista and its mission? 
Our goal is to have short, educational videos that inspire students and teachers. We’re trying to highlight creativity in learning. So, if a student has a really clever way of describing something, then let’s share that with the world. And if a teacher has a great way of explaining something, then let’s get that out there. Because, you know, there may be a kid who watches that and says, “Oh, I get it now!” or a teacher who watches it and says “Oh, that’s really going to help me in how I think about explaining things to kids.” It’s seriously good fun.

What do you believe is the biggest obstacle in education technology today?
I believe the biggest obstacle is not a technical one– it’s the unwillingness to make professional exploration a priority in our schools. For technology, given the wealth of free powerful tools and resources available for teaching and learning, the key is simply to make time to see what’s of interest, and explore possibilities with colleagues and students.
What current trends are you seeing today in education technology?
The most important trend may be the move from a calendar-based curriculum to a proficiency-based one. We’ve talked about moving from sage to guide for years, but now there is an effect for not doing so—students who learn to direct their own learning have a creative advantage over those who have simply followed the rules in a traditional environment.

What future education trends do you anticipate?
I’m one of many who believe that game-based learning will be the major force for changes in schooling in the coming 3-8 years. I also believe that digital media, in having allowed students to expand the audience for their work, will become a more prominent resource for helping students significantly improve the quality of their work.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle regarding technology being affordable for educators? Do you see this improving at all?
Good technology is already affordable. By and large, it’s free. If educators want to spend money on what’s available, they should do so not by simply requesting what could be helpful, but instead by first having shown what they can do with free tools and resources, and explaining how what is to be purchased will allow them to expand those activities in productive ways.


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