I fell upon some articles by Tom Goodwin, who focuses on innovation, but from a business perspective. One of the quotes from his article,The Future of TV isn’t Apps, really connected with me in what we are doing in education.
Whenever a new technology arrives we typically misuse it. Rather than rethinking what’s possible and transforming industries, we consistently use it to embellish what we’ve done before.
Three common examples I see with this in schools (although there are more), are digital textbooks, digital worksheets, and digital portfolios. We somehow believe that if it is on an iPad, or delivered through a device, that it will be somehow more “engaging” for students. If your focus is simply on “engagement”, and not “empowerment”, you might win students over for awhile, but the novelty will wear off. We need to look at depth over the “novelty” of technology. We can start at the surface level, but it can not be the end goal.
This tied in nicely with Goodwin’s other article, “Innovation is in All the Wrong Places“:
We’ve got the questions wrong. It shouldn’t be how are you innovating or which project is doing new things, but why are you doing it and on what level.
A question that I always ask groups is, “Are you trying to do ‘digital school’, or are you rethinking what school can be?” Technology does not equal innovation, but it accelerates and amplifies everything. So if we are still doing “bad practice” with technology, it is “bad practice” accelerated. This is not what we want schools to be known for. We have to ask deeper questions and look for creating something much better, not simply accelerating what we have always done.
Keep asking questions, and let’s all continue to be thoughtful of where schools are going, and what the path looks like to get there.