Replace vs Integrate

As a leader, one of my tasks involves "labelling" initiatives, changing what we call what we're doing. Sometimes, it's clear that the labels are disingenuous, inaccurate reflections of what really happens. For example, you might be saying Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), but the result is different than what you expected.
Step Up...Image Source: http://goo.gl/DT5TFt

BYOD calls up a vision of teachers crafting blended learning opportunities--where learning is not simply consumption of great content, but creating content individually and collaboratively in ways that only technology can make possible--for, and often in collaboration, with students. It's a wonderful vision, but the sad reality falls short.

While reality isn't necessarily sad in itself, it is sad when implementation fails to live up to the vision. It's sad because we know we can do better but there are obstacles that have sabotaged the effort. You could make a list of all the reasons why initiatives fail, but I'd sum it up as a failure to embrace the change in all aspects of our lives.

Jeff "The Thinking Stick" Utecht makes the point that it's time we changed our labels in his blog entry, Replacing Skills:
Going from integrate, to embed and now to replace. However, I think it’s just the progression of adoption of any new way of thinking any new skill set as we reach a new level. A level where we need to start replacing the skills we use to teach with new skills that must be taught. The standards haven’t changed….the tools and skills have and we need to make sure we’re updating the skills to match the needs of our students.
This is often the same kind angst that surrounds concepts where technology is seen as a tool. You often hear this from older edtech folks. It's another tool in your teaching toolbox.  Technology is seen as a tool to support instruction. It's a lever to shift teaching and learning.
In a technology-rich classroom, students don't "learn" technology. Technology merely provides the tools to be used for authentic learning. It is a means, not an end. 
Source: Technology as a Tool to Support Instruction
George Couros reminds me of this Neil Postman quote in his blog entry, Technology Is More Than a Tool:
Technological change is not additive; it is ecological.
Bill Ferriter makes starts with a different conclusion but ends up with similar perspective in Technology is a tool, not a learning outcome:

Kids AREN'T motivated by technology. 
Instead, they're motivated by opportunities to make a difference in the world; they are motivated by opportunities to ask and answer their own questions; and they are motivated by opportunities to learn together with like-minded peers.
Digital tools CAN make all of that work possible -- but until we start seeing technology as nothing MORE than a tool, we'll keep wasting time and cash on products that do nothing to change learning in meaningful ways for our kids.
Technology can be many things to different folks...a platform you can stand on, a digital bullhorn to amplify your voice or those whom you serve. Or, it can be a way of achieving a destination previously impossible to reach. Whether it's a tool to be integrated, an approach that has been modernized for our changing times, the end result must be the same:


  • What the heck are we doing with it? 
  • What excuses or rationalizations have we allowed to prevent us?


At the end of the day, I don't care about labels anymore. I have lost interest in the word play of how technology interacts in classrooms. These days, what I need to see happen in classrooms includes this short list:

  1. Figure out what needs doing, then do it with technology. You're going to sort that list by hand? You're going to print that out? You're going to do what?!? Why don't you just use a spreadsheet, a GoogleForm, a draw program, an online database, a blog, a wiki, a GoogleDoc, a QR code, oh my!
  2. Stop making excuses for what you don't know. Get busy learning. I promise you, once you figure out what you must do and how technology can help, you will learn.
  3. Learn and work together.
If I had more time, I'd write these points in a much simpler fashion. Let me try again:
  1. Use it.
  2. Step up.
  3. Collaborate.
Not sure if that works, but I have to agree with Jeff. Let's add "integration" of technology to our stop-doing list. Instead, let's regain the time spent trying to do integration or using technology as a tool.






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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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