Digital Media Academy

Bob Regan

Education is an inherently social endeavor where teachers are critical levers to opening up opportunities for students via the classroom. Technology has a key role to play in this effort through bringing the outside world in closer, providing tools and data to make sense of this information and connecting teachers, scholars and experts with the resources to realize student potential. I focus on how content, tools and collaboration can reshape our schools to provide the best possible experiences for students and teachers the world over.

I started off as a classroom teacher of Math, Technology, and French. I spent more than six years in the classroom looking at ways to integrate standards with authentic, real-world challenges that inspire and engage students. Whenever possible, I tried to integrate concepts across the curriculum without losing sight of the disciplinary expectations. These early experiences had a huge impact on the way I think about what I do. Isolating skills or content from one another and the world around us, rarely has a lasting impact on student learning. Yet, bringing these kinds of experiences to life in the classroom is not easy. Technology offers the potential to facilitate this kind of learning, but as well it offers incredible opportunities to bring about this kind of teaching.

Critical to my work has been a focus on teachers. For many, use of the textbook is reductive. Something to be avoided. We tend to think to fall into the trap of believing that good teachers create all of their own materials, from scratch. The problem with this mindset is that is serves to isolate teachers. When teachers come up with great lessons, do they have opportunities to invite others to try them out and provide feedback? Do they get the opportunity to chat with scholars about the latest research in teaching reading or writing? Do they have the time to build a coherent framework of instruction where students build on a progression of content and skills? Generally, the answer is no. Rather than focus on technology as a means of creating reductive or superfluous experiences, my work has focused on how to create tools that truly serve instruction.

This has required a different way of thinking about the role of technology. The aim being how to provide both teacher and student with the data and resources they need at the moment they need it. Rather than placing a premium of putting at the center of instruction, I constantly challenge myself to look for the optimal learning experience and place technology in service of instruction.