Andy Petroski Educates Us On Education, With New Innovative Technologies

Every day it seems as though technology is changing our world and the way we do things.   Using relatively advanced technology has become a norm in our everyday lives.  From having the power of the internet on a hand held smart phone to watching live stream movies from a net flix box right on our TV.   There seems to be no end to the innovation that our culture demands and craves.   One area that some might say drastically needs innovation in regards to technology, is the field of education.    However, with technology changing so quickly and with so many different products to choose from, it can definitely be trying for busy educators to learn, adapt, and adopt new technologies into their teaching style.

Andy Petroski professor of Learning Technologies ar Harrisburg University understands the need for innovative technology in our education all to well.   Petrowski is a well known advocate for the use of technology in the classroom.  Andy was awarded “Technology Educator” of the year in 2010 and is currently the director of learning technologies at Harrisburg.

We asked Andy to come by and to try and educate us on what exactly we should be doing or trying to learn in order to incorporate technology into the way we learn and our kids learn.   He obliged, and left us with a few valuable and much appreciated pointers. Enjoy!

How did you first get into “Education technology”?

I first gained an interest in multimedia by doing PowerPoint presentations and desktop publishing as a Marketing Coordinator in my first job out of college.  I became motivated toward a career change after realizing a greater interest in the creative side of marketing.  I researched careers and found instructional technology.  I was an average student in high school, because I was unmotivated and uninterested.  However, I excelled in college because of the passion of the professors, the context of the learning and the motivation to succeed toward a career.  I pursued a career in instructional technology because I wanted to improve learning experiences for younger students who are also unmotivated by the traditional K-12 experience.  I attended the Institute for Interactive Technologies at Bloomsburg University for my Master’s in Instructional Technology and have been working in the field in corporate eLearning and educational technology for the past 15 years.


What are some of your favorite tools that you have used in the past 5 years in the field of education?

–          I really don’t have “favorite” tools.  I try to use the best tool for the job at any one time.  The two (2) tools I use the most right now for my own learning and management are Twitter and Evernote.  In my own teaching I use wikis, blogs, mind maps (Mindmeister), podcasting, Moodle, virtual worlds, web conferencing.

–          We use Adobe Connect in the LTMS program at Harrisburg University for distance learning.  The E2C format allows students to participate in the physical classroom through a virtual classroom connection from any location.


Are there certain ways that technology is changing the way we teach and learn that you could explain to us?  Why are these new ways beneficial?

–          Technology enables conversations, content creation, connections and collaboration without boundaries (time or distance).  That’s beneficial to learning because it creates the possibility for connecting with experts throughout the globe at any time, allows us to personalize our own learning and increases the possibilities for a social component to the learning process.  We are more connected than ever before and that is great progress for greater awareness, feedback and exploration.  That is learning.  The more we can bring awareness, feedback and exploration into formal learning, the better.

–          Technology is just a tool though.  Like any other tool, to be successful with it you need to have a goal, a strategy and a feedback loop to measure it’s impact.


Do you feel like there are certain technological tools out there right now that are changing the face of how we do business, for instance Microsoft Sharepoint, Cloud Intranets or Extranets, what are some of your favorites and why?

–          In my world the technique (not technology) having the biggest impact on how we do business and learning is games.  Game-based learning, games for change, games for health and gamification are having a huge impact on how we think about the way we interact with content, business processes, software and each other.

–          Cloud computing is great.  I’m a huge Drop Box user and it has made collaborating on projects so much easier.  Google docs is another cloud-based tool that has really had a big impact on collaboration for business and learning.


When you are working in corporate consulting what are some of the common areas you see that need work to bring companies into 2012, how do you fix them?

–          Overall, there is a lack of technology competency in mid-management.  Hi level leaders also don’t understand the concept of leveraging technology across the company for gain.  Everyone understands technology for communication and processing (payments, orders, etc.).  But, very few understand technology as a whole business strategy.  I think incorporating more hands-on and technology strategy components into MBA programs would help.  There also needs to be more technology integration in undergraduate work.  Technology needs to become something that “just is” versus it being a specialized type of voodoo that only the guys in the basement understand.

–          The same can be said for those in the learning field.  It amazes me at the number of people who still don’t think of technology as a part of the solution.  Again, unless they major in instructional technology, people in K-12 education and corporate learning are not getting enough experience with technology in their undergraduate or graduate programs.


If you could offer educators advice on upping their use of technology in the classroom, what would it be?

–          There are two words of advice I often have for educators.  1. Use it outside the classroom.  Technology use is a skill and a skill that takes time to develop.  Dive in with both feet and begin making technology a part of your everyday life.  If it can be done better with technology, then use technology to do it (everything from banking to reminders, etc.).

–          Start small in your classroom.  Don’t feel you need to learn 50 web 2.0 tools before you start using them.  Research 5-10.  Actively experiment with 3-5 and then select 1-3 to use.  When you’re comfortable with those 1-3, start all over again.  And, use the technology strategically.  Don’t use something because someone else is using it or it’s the newest tool.  Use it because it solves a problem or enables a higher level of learning for students.


Where do you see educational and business technologies headed in the next few years?

–          If the past five (5) years is any indication, both ends of the technology spectrum will continue to expand.  There will be more micro-technologies that have very specific tasks/functions.  These technologies tend to put the power in the hands of the individual user and enable them to create, distribute and connect content that is personalized to them and people that they collaborate with.  We’ll also see more evolution of high-end technologies that require more expertise and computing power and are often dependent on external devices/peripherals.  Technologies like motion sensor, robotics, virtual worlds, augmented reality, etc. will continue to gain momentum.

–          Big data is also a trend.  So, I think we’ll see more technologies that crunch lots of data to help us make decisions . . . in learning, business and our personal lives.