Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Skipping Stones

As I evaluate various new technologies that are developed each year, I've come to the conclusion that the danger is what I picture in my mind as "skipping stones." As any of you who have spent time on the shore of a calm lake know, a nice flat stone, thrown just right, will hop along the surface of the water several times before it sinks to the bottom never to be seen again. Observers will oooo and ahhh, but the excitement lasts only as long as the stone skips and can't be summoned again until the next stone is tossed.

The same goes for educational technology if we're not careful. We see the potential of the technology, whatever it is; we purchase it and deploy it with great fanfare; and then we watch with dismay while students and teachers implement the use of the technology at only the most superficial levels. The stakeholders are very excited at first, but because the users aren't growing with the technology, the newness wears off in a hurry. Then the advertisers tout the next new technology, and the users clamor to move on to the next new device or software, only to once again hip skip along the surface of the potential of the technology.

This cycle must end. We must make educated decisions about the best devices and software for our schools, and then we must train and collaborate and dig very deep to make sure we are making the very best educational uses of the technology. We must avoid the temptation to put the old aside to move on to the next newest thing over and over again, because it means we never really reach the place of teaching differently or learning differently, and that after all, is the point. isn't it?

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