31 January 2012

FETC Reminds Me How Hard it is to Change

Last week I attended the FETC conference. This picture from the show floor inadvertantly captures the de facto theme: "21st Century Technology that does not change the way you work.

The audience was composed of about 50% classroom teachers, 25% other school officials the the balance of technologists, vendors, district and state people and so forth. This an education technology conference and the teachers who attend are tech savvy and forward thinking. But the framework remains a conventional classroom and the attitude seems to be "Take school, add technology, mix well and serve."

In my presentation I argued for a different perspective. Digital abundance is nice but we've been adding technology to classrooms for decades with little impact on student learning. In order to the big improvements that society is demanding of schools, we have to change our education systems. Teachers will be more important than ever -- i'm under no illusions that computers can replace them. But just as the practice of business had to change to take advantage of new technology, so must the practice of education.

1 comment :

Jim Goodell said...

Change is difficult...in 1799 pain-free surgery was a radical idea. It took 40 or more years for surgeons to see past preconceived notions about pain and accept that pain was not necessarily a good thing. ( see http://approaching100percent.blogspot.com/2010/04/we-dont-need-anestesia-its-painful-this.html )

The technology of anesthesia in 1799 can be compared to learning technologies of today. The technology exists, but the best ways to use it have not yet been invented or tried. Getting professional practice to change takes a different kind of innovation, inventing catalysts for "aha moments" when people realize it is in their best interest to change what they do.

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