“Project-based learning, while not new, is seeing renewed interest and I feel it truly helps students.” – USA

When you blog as the “Education Technology Guy,” you’d better know a lot about technology and education. Fortunately, David Andrade lives up to his screen name. He also blogs for Tech & Learning, and Discovery Education. And fortunately for his high school students, he’s also a gifted physics teacher (and former engineer) – yes, he has blogs for his classes, too.  He has a lot to say about the state of education and technology today, and he sees how the much-talked-about 21st century skills play out daily in his classes. “I feel that critical thinking, problem solving, communications, and teamwork are not 21st century skills. They are critical skills that humans have needed throughout our history,” says Andrade. “I would say that 21st century skills would include finding and analyzing data on the Internet, and using new technologies to do things better and more efficiently.”

Here, Andrade shares his thoughts on project-based learning and – of course – technology and education.

Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?

I research and write about educational technology and educational issues and also facilitate professional development sessions for my school, district, and at the state and national level, as well as participate in online discussions. My research, ideas, and thoughts have influenced a variety of educators and students over the years.

What has changed as a result of your efforts?

Increased use of technology to differentiate learning, increased use of project-based learning, and increased communication and collaboration among teachers and students. I also use my research and ideas in my own classes to help my students learn and understand physics concepts, as well as develop skills like teamwork and problem solving.

How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

It just takes some time and dedication and you can learn ways to improve teaching and learning in your classroom, school, district, and more.

How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

I use technology to communicate with students and parents, learn and share with other educators, provide new ways for my students to learn and experience things (virtual labs, projects, and more) and make things more efficient and effective in my classroom.

What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?

Lack of supplies and resources in my class (I use virtual labs, and find a lot of grants) as well as helping my students overcome their individual challenges.

What is your region doing well currently to support education?

Connecticut education is in a huge state of flux right now and no one is sure what is happening. What is good is that the teachers themselves work together and support each other.

What conditions must change in your country/region to better support education?

Less standardized testing, more support for teachers, more support for struggling students, increased use of project-based learning and inquiry versus lecture and

What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

Project-based learning and use of technology to differentiate, communicate, collaborate, and support students and teachers.

What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?

Connect with your students, support them and be an advocate for them, work with other teachers, use proven best practices, and do what is right for your students.

What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?

Project-based learning, while not new, is seeing renewed interest and I feel it truly helps students. The use of technology also helps students with support, communication with teachers, new experiences, review and remediation and more.

The biggest trend in education that is hurting learning is the attacks on teachers and the continued use of more and more standardized testing that does not help anyone.

If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

Supportive parents. OK, as for a tool, I would want every child to have some sort of computing device, whether tablet, smart phone, or laptop, so that they can access information, create projects, connect with others, and collaborate and share.

About David Andrade
Physics Teacher, Educational Technology Specialist, Author and Blogger

Birthplace: Connecticut
Current residence: Stratford, Connecticut
Education: BS Aerospace Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute  (I was an engineer for ten years before becoming an educator); MS Educational Technology, Walden University; MS Educational Leadership, American College of Education
Website I check every day: Twitter
Person who inspires me most: my wife
Favorite childhood memory: Boy Scout adventures
Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, both pleasure
When was the last time you laughed? Why? This morning – wife and I joking
Favorite book: Anything by Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, Preston/Child, James Rollings
Favorite music: Rush
Your favorite quote or motto: “Always do the right thing for your students and
they will succeed.”

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