Just Say Yes?

Gary Ball, edtechnophile:

I want to be a Yes Man. I want to be a Lets Find a Way Man. I want my job to be finding ways to say yes to educators requests. Educator: “Can I do/have (insert random skill/technology/tool)?” Me: “Heck ya – that sounds awesome. I am not sure how but lets find a way!”

Mark Weston, Dell’s educational strategist:

Asking the question, “Does technology improve student learning?” is the wrong question. The question should be, “Does technology support the practices that improve student learning?”

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. To be fair, I read Gary’s full post and it’s as much about being frustrated by administration that blocks every attempt at .

    I do like Weston’s framing and in fact, I’m including it as I develop our district’s technology plan. In general, that is the preferred approach. However innovation does occur as a result of play and exploration where it may not begin with the end or outcome in mind. We need both approaches. The balance is allowing for “cheap failure”. Spending $2000 on IWB may not not be a wise investment for someone who hasn’t considered how it will improve practices that support student learning. But giving someone a chance to play with some software might be a good investment.

    There’s no formula for this but guiding principles are good.

  2. Sorry. The first sentence should read,

    To be fair, I read Gary’s full post and it’s as much about being frustrated by administration that blocks every attempt to innovate without discussion as it as about wanting new toys. But I agree that’s a dangerous mindset.

  3. dean – agree that there is a tension between innovation and best practice. but what about the “guinea pig” factor – not wanting to find yourself halfway through a unit realizing that the new fun tool you tried out really doesn’t fit at all? (assuming due diligence in testing out the tool beforehand didn’t uncover the eventual problem.)

    i suppose a metric similar to “cheap failure” would work – don’t bet the whole unit’s outcomes onto a new tool, and don’t tie too many of the disciplines key skills to new technologies.

    (btw, decided to drop jeffreygene and go with the one my mother gave me. jeff.)

  4. I need to pay better attention. I just found your post.

    Dean has the essence of what the post was actually about. You are quoting me a bit out of context.

    No division could afford to keep me (or any good teacher) fully stocked up with all of my (our) whims. There has to be some sort of system of checks and balances to see that funds are truly spent on technology that supports students learning (and the practices that improve it). However I was not ranting about whims. Any conversation that starts out with a NO probably won’t get far. I want to be heard out and considered before I get a no (and please leave out the capital letters and the exclamation mark).

    A good teacher would not depend upon a single new tool for a unit. We might do that for a lesson or a class – but that would be to try out the tool.

    Innovation and creativity (which we need more of) sometimes involves picking up something new and asking “What can I do with this?” It involves playing with the new shiny thing and finding interesting ways it is useful.

    I do agree that we need to have the conversation about how things will improve or support student learning. Anything that does not in some way improve student learning is money wasted. I don’t advocate blindly saying yes. I do advocate for innovation, creativity, and the conversations that should come with them.

  5. In reply to Gary Ball – I think you hit the nail right on the head. Yes, there does need to be a balance and yes, we do need to make sure that money spent is in support of student learning. But how can we say that we are advocates of student learning when we say no to ideas before pursuing, experimenting, and discussing those ideas. What if those ideas have the potential to lead to huge amounts of student learning? And to be fair, saying no to ideas before they can be developed and considered should not be part of our educational system. We all know that we are educating students for a future that we know very little about. Shouldn’t this influence us to be open to new ideas and innovation? If we were part of the corporate world we would be asking for a “bail out” because too often we say no based on budgets and hierarchal power. In today’s world companies flourish because they are extremely open to innovation that will foster progression and success. When someone in the corporate world consistently says no to an idea that hasn’t even been considered two things usually happen: another company develops the idea and profits from it; and that person eventually gets fired. Now, we are not part of the corporate world, and luckily our competitors do not capitalize on missed opportunites and our businees does not suffer, for our clients keep coming back. But who does suffer? Sadly, innovative educators…and let’s not forget – our students.