… the week is shaping up once again to be more about tools and vendors than about … the very essence of how teaching and schools are being pushed by the shifts that are occurring. — Will Richardson, an up-and-coming edublogger, questioning the momentum of the ed-tech conversation.
My word. If you people keep up this kind of clearheaded self-critique, this blog'll have nothing left. It'll digest itself, slip into a peaceful coma, and die smiling.
The Ed-Technologist's Self-Evaluation
Are you about the tools or the teaching? Are you about the clenched-fist revolution or the game-changing evolution? Or, ideally, are you about both at the same time?
A scenario — only sorta hypothetical — that has nagged me going on eighteen months:
Kristi is a technologically-adept fifth-year Algebra teacher. She blogs, both personally and professionally. She can develop basic fluency in any tool — online, hardware, or software — you throw at her inside a week. She will let you do whatever you want to her classes, from the lesson plans on down to the seating arrangement. Hell, for the sake of the hypothetical, I'll spot you laptops — MacBook Pros, XOs, Asuses, or whatever — on every desk.
The only requirement — and this is as minimal as they come — is that you cover her state's Algebra standard to the same extent she has these last four years.
Do You Have A Plan?
I'm not asking for a year's worth of lesson plans, a curriculum map, a first-day activity, or even a raised hand. I'm asking to ask yourself, "stripped of all my usual impediments and foes, do I know how to help this teacher?"
And if you don't, I'm going to suggest here that you've driven yourself to distraction with what's new *coughs in Plurk's direction* and lost sight of what's useful, that you've confused your adult enthusiasms with your students' needs, that you're approaching the learning transaction from the new tool downwards ("Plurk is awesome. Where can I fit Plurk into the classroom?"), rather than from the necessary instructional goal upwards ("What is the best tool — offline or on-, new school or old- — for teaching this concept?").
So much of the ed-tech conversation has been motivated by, written in response to, even defined by the School 1.0 boogeyman. I mean, if I want a thousand words of big-picture idealism, of reductive analogies between traditional schools and modern jails, of rabblerousing, of browbeating, I know several hundred places to look.
That's all fine and fair. The boogeyman exists, after all.
But the Kristi's exist too. And they're getting restless.
Don't ask me how I know.
photo credit: Ewan McIntosh