Monday, September 16, 2019

Sacred Cows on Vacation

How are you creating micro-moments of success for the people you serve? Over the last few weeks, I've been pondering how technology fits into teaching and learning. Why? I hadn't done it in awhile, and my goal was to question and slay the sacred cows of edtech. Ok, maybe we don't have to use such violent language. Let's not slay. Let's just...put them in the right paddock. Or, better yet, let's send those sacred cows on a vacation!

Ain't they cute? (Image source)

A part of that journey of re-discovery, fresh awareness, involves asking, "What is innovation?" A follow-up question to that, of course, is, "Do our children and educators need to spend time on what Schmoker asks are unproven innovations?"

Early this morning, I stumbled across this article from Forbes from Brian Solis, "Disruptive Technology Is A Catalyst For Change, Not The Reason -- How To Survive Digital Darwinism." My main overview of the article is that businesses are working hard to find a way to stay on top of things. There's probably something more profound deeper in the article, but hey, Brian Solis said something that got my mind going right from the start. May I share it with you?

Defining Iteration and Innovation

Iteration is using new technology to do the same things better. Essentially, upgrade and update the existing journey by bolting on new shiny things.
Innovation is doing something new that introduces new value. 
Now, should we be striving for innovation in classrooms today who are seeking to use technology, or iteration?

That's a question that many of us have answered in the past. Simply, "iteration" isn't the goal in classrooms. The reason why? We don't want to perpetuate a broken education system. Technology innovations, however, introduce new value.
Update: As I re-read this blog entry prior to publishing, I'm tempted to reach for some kind of chart or graph tool to better convey the concepts. It needs some examples. There? See? Some blog post self-critique before publication insight for you. For fun, I rolled these arguments out to fellow edtechers and it was great to see the dogged determination to not consider other viewpoints. Has edtech become a religion that we blindly adhere to its tenets? It's time to "think different" and revisit our tightly held beliefs and biases.

When Effective Meets Unproven

But what happens when a third option appears? That is, when we have effective instructional strategies (a la Hattie, Schmoker, Fisher, Frey), and one or both the following consequences come into play?
  1. Iteration impacts in a negative way. It does this by making an effective strategy, ineffective while giving it some glitz and glamour.
    OR
  2. Technology lessons add value in some way (e.g. multimedia stories, students creating projects), but value that doesn't make a difference when it comes to student achievement. 
Obviously, neither of those consequences are desirable. 

Improving On Poor

What we, as educational technologists have imagined, or experienced, is the following situations:
  • Ineffective instructional strategies replaced by technology innovations...using new technologies to replace poor practices.
  • Ineffective strategies made more effective, efficient through iteration...that is, using new technology to do the same things better but still failing to impact innovation. Like taking a "cut-n-paste" activity and adding technology to it but neither activity improves reading, writing at higher levels.
In both cases, student achievement isn't improved no matter how efficient an ineffective strategy is made, or how fantastically wonderful technology improves or replaces ineffective strategies. Can you think of some examples of that?

Where Do We Go From Here?

So, if what we've seen in the past has been improving on nothing good, or distracting from what work (admit it, you've heard praise and complaint for each, respectively when encouraging edtech in schools), what do we do?

We find a way to pair effective instructional strategies with technology. What's the secret sauce to get that done? Dr. Sonny Magana has some ideas. I'm going to read that book again and explore it here. Come along for the ride.


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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