Monday, January 29, 2018

It's Just a Tool/ Hopeful for Change

It's not uncommon for me to read that tech is "just another tool". I had a boss who said about our new iPads, "They are a pencil." She wanted our new iPads to seem as normal as a pencil. She was right in this. For better and for worse, tech is ubiquitous.  As Alan Kay first put it, "Technology is what happens after you are born." To proponents of this view, technology should be analogous to David Foster Wallace's famous metaphor of water to a fish, so normal that it is invisible.

Others push back on this view arguing that digital technology is far more than just a tool. They too are right. For the tool of tech lets us fundamentally change how we do things. They argue that the insistence of treating tech like some new-fangled tool works until the shiny newness wears off. Then we are left with doing what we've always done.

As an ed-tech specialist, I find most of my day to day work my job is in the "tool department."  I wish I was more like the architect. I find tools that could help people built different houses. But most of the time, the most popular tech tools are the tools that people can immediately integrate into current methods and pedagogies. It's why Google Classroom was adopted so readily and easily by teachers across the county. 

My colleague +Laura Novo shared a link with me today that offered me a glimmer of hope. So much of the impediments to change in schools such as mine comes from the fact that we are preparing kids for and trying to get them into traditional four year colleges. But what if these colleges started to change?  Might we get trickle down ed-reform?  As +Dan Crowley puts it, "Maybe colleges will be the catalyst [for] curricular innovation in the same way they have been used for maintaining the status-quo?"

Goucher College, the school highlighted in the article is really terrific place. My eldest daughter came so close to matriculating and there's a good chance I'll be sending a younger daughter there next year. I mean no disrespect to Goucher, but more prestigious colleges will have to begin to teach in this manner for the trickle down to really start. And then their admissions departments will want students who can succeed in these new programs. Okay Harvard, we're waiting! Here's to hope

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