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Back to School & Back to Learning By Andrea S. Gaboriault Technology integration is changing the way people are learning in the classroom and in their careers. As my three daughters head back to school this year, they’re carrying a great deal less than they used to. My oldest went off to college for the first time, so she bought herself a tablet that can contain every program, digital book, and notebook she could possibly need. My youngest, meanwhile, was issued a Chromebook by her high school, and even my middle daughter’s agricultural high school has a bring-your-own-device policy. It’s strange to think that just a few years ago, the three of them boarded the elementary school bus wearing 40-pound backpacks full of notebooks and hardcover textbooks! It is absolutely undeniable that technology is changing the way our children learn. As the costs for the latest devices come down, more and more elementary and secondary school systems are requiring their use, and at the university level, they are indispensable. The workplace is no different, of course. Technology integration benefits every business, allowing us to do our jobs better and more efficiently by facilitating creation, communication, and critical thinking skills. Uncomplicating Creation Can you imagine doing your job without a computer? It’s just not possible in today’s world. People are always coming up with better ways to streamline the creation process for everything. Seemingly with just a few clicks of a mouse, designers and engineers can create amazing things. Couple this with the developers who are constantly updating the programs, and this is why it’s so important to stay up-to-date with the latest version of the software. The easiest way to do that is to have instantly accessible learning solutions at your fingertips, so that you can learn as you work. Constantly Connected Communication Collaboration is vital to a team of people trying to accomplish a common goal, and one very positive side effect of that is how quickly team members can learn from each other. We are more connected and mobile than ever with coordinated contacts, emails, and calendars that we can instantly access across a variety of devices. Having a brainstorming session with a colleague who’s across the country or even halfway around the world is now as simple as the click of a mouse or the tap of a screen. The ability to join forums, read blogs, and attend online seminars—in effect, learning directly from experts anytime and anywhere—is simply priceless. Critical Thinking The internet has significantly changed our way of learning by providing instant access to information. Our devices allow us to tap that wealth of information anytime and anywhere, and so our ability to educate ourselves has become easier than ever. Because we must sift through such a vast amount of information to find what we need, it forces us to exercise good judgement and critical thinking skills. This allows educators of all types to become guides, rather than informers. Similarly,