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Is There too Much Technology in Public Education Service Delivery?

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Marvin N. Pichla
July 19, 2016

It is a tremendous understatement to proclaim that advancements in the world of technology are continuing at an unbelievable pace. Computers and cell phones are obsolete the minute they are produced and “there-is-an-app-for-that” has developed into a special business component all its own. So how do we capsulate the field of technology into an organized, absorbable and user-friendly public education learning element and also a productivity tool for the 21st century workplace?

To solve this dilemma, those involved in education and training and the students they serve need to find some form of progressive, information overload resistant techno-balance. However, it is first necessary to assess the state of this technology-public education service delivery instructional challenge.

As an appropriate starting point, observational research suggests that educators in general support a philosophy that the more technology can be blended into the learning process the better. This position is based on the reality that multiple forms of technology will inevitably be strategically integrated into employment options now and in the future.

From the employer’s point of view, research still ranks the following as the principle work ethic traits they seek:

  • Showing up on time
  • Showing up every day
  • Looking work ready
  • Being flexible and adaptable
  • Working within a team 

However, being computer literate and being open to work a schedule that accommodates nontraditional hours have now become the more recent additions to the 21st century work ethic list. Therefore, the techno-balance compromise is evolving.

Another area of concern in public education and the use of technology service delivery centers around its appropriate application. For example, when asking high school students about the value-added of a tablet-based or online textbook classroom structure, many do not support this action. Their rationale? Too often, they are easily distracted by other applications. In addition, they are more apt to let technology find the answers to test questions instead of learning and understanding the answers themselves.

A third area of technology-public education service delivery concern is the recent interest in seminars/boot camps/interventions that are intended to wean people (particularly young adults) from their dependence on technology. Whether it is social media information, exchanging photos and/or just the instant messaging option to stay “connected,” individuals and groups have recognized the level of negative addiction people have to their technological devices. Appropriately with the considerations given to seminar, boot camp and/or intervention training sessions, the field of public education is the logical system to creatively address this phenomenon as a life-long learning issue.

So what’s the answer?

One answer would be to make the technology/education balance a strong priority in our school-to-work service delivery training system. This would require everyone to:  (1) not assume that people understand this addictive challenge issue and (2) not take for granted that they will learn the proper technology balancing act at home or on the street!

Instead, a simple, straight-forward technology balance curriculum could be developed for multiple factions. At a minimum, beginning target audiences would be:

  • Students (elementary and high school)
  • Teachers (all levels and delivered as a professional development session)
  • Sector employees (all levels)
  • EVERYBODY 

If the school-to-work training network took a proactive leadership approach to addressing the technology balancing requirement, the public education service delivery system would help reintroduce the critical need for actual person-to-person conversations, planning, creativity, handshakes, eye-to-eye contact and a number of other personal engagement benefits that have been neglected.

Organizing and pilot-testing an appropriate single day or short term technology balance curriculum would be based on an “everything in moderation” theme. It would stress that the greatest use of technology is found in its availability as a tool for information and communication. Extensive dependence on technology, although often required, should not be disabling.

The technology balance sessions would also discuss the importance of REAL documents. Reminders would be made to understand that social media messages are not conversations; they are just messages.

Finding the technology-public education-work balance can be done. Making it a real public education service delivery priority for everyone would be the challenge.


Author: Marvin N. Pichla, Ph.D., is owner and creative adviser of Inspiring Innovations, Inc. Sharing his unique entrepreneurship and innovation in public service experience, Marv consults with public and private business, education and community organizations to develop new and different problem-solving methods through real-life example based learning. Email: [email protected].

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

One Response to Is There too Much Technology in Public Education Service Delivery?

  1. Pingback: TRIPLE III TIME: My Quarterly ASPA Article | Inspiring Innovations, Inc.

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