What I really like about this book are the provocations that are put out there in every chapter. In chapter 9, George Couros writes about the importance of the appropriate technology being introduced into schools, but more importantly, he writes about the mindset that needs to go along with that.
We are trying to implement 21st-century technology with management systems that sometimes seem to harken back to the 19th century.
Our management systems have not caught up to the terrific learning opportunities, assisted by technology that are out there. Couros quotes Seymour Papert in this chapter and I have to add part of the quote in this post because it defines the bind we are in as we try to revolutionize our inflexible education structures:
So if I want to be a better learner, I’ll go find somebody who’s a good learner and with this person do some learning. But this is the opposite of what we do in our schools. We don’t allow the teacher to do any learning. We don’t allow the kids to have the experience of learning with the teacher because that’s incompatible with the concept of the curriculum where what is being taught is what’s already known.
Seymour Papert, Seymour Papert: Project-based Learning,” Edutopia, November 1, 2001.
What is really needed is a change of course (pg 146) when it comes to the application of educational technology in our schools.
George quotes Tom Murray from the Alliance for Excellence in Education and an article he wrote on “10 steps Technology Directors Can Take to Stay Relevant.” Based on this article, George poses four questions that focus on the intelligent implementation of technology:
- What is best for kids?
- How does it improve learning?
- If we do ______, what is the balance of risk vs. reward?
- Is this serving the few or the majority?
These are essential questions – how often are these questions asked when it comes to the implementation of technology? I believe, in my experience, these questions are asked by technology departments, but too often their way is barred by system decision makers who do not have as clear a vision on how to answer these questions.
Are we really asking what is best for the learner, or are we asking what is easiest, cheapest fastest in the short-term? Are we really exploring what is best for all learners and do we really have a comprehensive plan to come up with the intelligent implementation that involves all learners – students and teachers alike.