Friday, May 6, 2016

One Device, One Learner at a time

In their moving tribute to rigor and relevance, esteemed colleagues Eric Scheninger and Weston Kieschnick ask, “Are we using technology in our classroom merely to say we’re using technology in our classroom? Or are we using it to advance learning goals and arm our students with technology skills necessary to thrive in the 21st century?” These are definitely worthwhile questions. I’m just not sure that rigor, relevance have anything to do with arming our children with technology skills to thrive in the present century.


In their EdTech Magazine blog entry they push back against the “slapdash technology use” that plagues many schools, putting out a call for “strategic implementation.” The problem is, they decide to use rigor and relevance as their tool. Why rigor and relevance? Weston and Eric state that the Rigor and Relevance Framework is…

…a robust tool that guides, vets, monitors and personalizes technology implementation, provides a better alternative. It is a simple, dynamic tool to examine curriculum, instruction and assessment…using two dimensions — critical thinking (rigor) and application (relevance)….

You know, this reminds me of my exploration of rigor and relevance years ago…and effort in arranging words on a chart that make for talking points but little else of value, certainly not “strategic implementation. Let’s take a quick trip down Memory Lane…



Source: Blending Rigor and Relevance with SAMR, and Partnership for 21st Century Skills


At this point, however, I’m not convinced (what, you missed that?!?) that quadrant learning is anything more than just another way of framing the conversation. And while framing the conversation may be valuable for pundits, it doesn’t get to the real goal of strategic implementation. The question that needs to be asked is, What IS strategic implementation? Here is one possible definition:

  • Strategic implementation is critical to…success, addressing the who, where, when, and how of reaching the desired goals and objectives. It focuses on the entire organization. Implementation occurs after environmental scans, SWOT analyses, and identifying strategic issues and goals. Source

Notice that strategic implementation gets to the nitty-gritty of implementation. In fact, for a strategy to be successful, Scott Edinger suggests the 3Cs—Clarify, Communicate, and Cascade. It is the last that is the toughest in schools (if not everywhere). Here’s what cascade means:

…if you want your strategy implemented well, you need to cascade it throughout the organization and get to the practical and tactical components of people’s jobs every day.

Let’s read that again--The practical and tactical components of people’s jobs every day. How does Eric and Weston’s use of Rigor and Relevance accomplish that? As Edinger says in his piece, strategy plays well with the leadership, but it’s the practical/tactical details that must carry the day, day in and day out. Make no mistake—strategic implementation can’t be done from behind the keynote speaker’s podium, anymore than feeding the hungry can be done behind the pulpit. If you want strategic implementation, you’ll have to step out there and get it done…one person at a time, one life at a time, one device, one learner at a time.

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