Friday, 1 February 2013

Refresh 1

Computer refreshes approach!  An ideal opportunity to reconsider all the bad habits we have in educational technology!  @banana29 had the following questions for her admin which might help frame a discussion around where we might go with our edtech:

What are the conditions under which students in 2013 learn best?
How will these conditions change by 2033?
How does the way we organize our school computers resemble/support those learning conditions?
What are the competencies/values that we want our students to learn?
How does the way we organize our school computers affect those competencies/values?

Some interesting ideas there. What can we do to present relevant learning situations to our students (how can we begin to join the disparities between the information rich world in which they live outside with the information poor one we present them with in class? What trends are we following into the future? How to we develop useful learning habits in digitally swamped students? How can we organize our digital tools to that optimize learning? 

These questions lead to some other questions around digitized pedagogy: how can digitization assist in learning? How can it hurt learning? What does good pedagogy look like in a digitally enhanced learning environment? Between the 'gee-wiz ipad' crowd and the 'it's paper and lectures or nothing' crowd, there has been precious little consideration of how the digital revolution we're in the middle of is affecting learning. The forces trying to monetize the process further muddy these waters.

These big questions lead to some awkward realizations.  What occurs to me first is that we have adopted educational technology following a business I.T. model rather than pushing for an educational focus. The private businesses that circle education hoping for a quick sale are quick to fill educational CTO positions in school boards.  Put another way, find a CTO in Ontario who was ever a teacher.  Education has different goals than business.  Modelling our I.T. on a business model has created foundations that lead educational technology as a whole in the wrong direction.

A good place to start would be to introduce Chief Technology Officers in school boards who are actually educators.  Another good place to start is to begin building educational technology in terms of skills development in a broad sense across many platforms with a focus on general literacy and responsibility of access rather than the paranoid, closed model that has been adopted from private business I.T..  Without a continuum of digital learning that produces students familiar with a variety of tools and responsible for their own access to and presentation of information baked into curriculum, we'll continue to graduate digital serfs instead of citizens capable of working effectively in digitally networked workplaces.

Alanna asks some good questions that need serious consideration by edtech managers.  I consider my side of things in Refresh 2