Technology for Learning: Add-on or Disruptor

Too often schools buy into “technology” with the expectation that teachers, students and leaders won’t have to change a thing – life can go on – business as usual. Not so fast. Technology is disruptive – not in a negative sense that it causes chaos with everyone and everything out of control; but in a positive sense that compels everyone – leader, student and teacher – to rethink what they do. Technology disrupts our thinking and our mindset of teaching, learning and leading. That’s not a bad thing.

Several recent blog posts reminded me how we in education need to embrace, not ignore, the disruptive quality of technology.

Seth GodinForm and Function

The question that gets asked about technology, the one that is almost always precisely the wrong question is, “How does this advance help our business?”

The correct question is, “How does this advance undermine our business model and require us/enable us to build a new one?”

Tim Stahmer at Assorted StuffAsking the Wrong Question

So, what happens if we substitute “school” for “business”?

Doug Johnson at The Blue Skunk BlogAre We Asking the Wrong Question About E-Books?

So, what happens if we substitute “school” “library” for “business”? Why should I go to the library when the library will come to me?

Trent Batson at Batson Blog“Technology Integration” is an Oxymoron

A simple analogy:  automobiles became popular in the 1910s — 1910 to 1920. But, for many enthusiasts who were among the first in their town to purchase an automobile, their enthusiasm waned quickly when they discovered their automobiles did not work very well on the dirt roads of the time. The brand new automobiles sat in garages or made short trips to the general store, consigned to the role of oddity instead of the “automobility” role they were supposed to fill.

A highway system had to be built along with establishing laws, enforcement, street lights, commonly recognized road signs and the entire infrastructure for cars that took us decades to build.  The nation had to integrate itself to the needs of the car.

I particularly like the automobile analogy. The automobile was disruptive – it compelled the consumer to think differently about “business as usual.” Technology in schools is the same way. Did we fight the automobile as much as schools are fighting to keep the status quo with only a thin surface-coating of technology?


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