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EdTech Update




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Any cultural change - yet?

In belated honor of Digital Learning Day*

About five years ago Scott McLeod challenged us to consider if technology had caused any "cultural change" in our school. I stated:

... I was sincerely hard pressed to identify such a [cultural] change - let alone think about who or what caused it - especially a change abetted by technology. If I survive two more weeks in my current position, I will have completed 31 years as a teacher, librarian or technology director. And things are more the same in 2008 than they are are different from my first year teaching in 1976. Some changes, yes; cultural changes, substantive changes, no. For the most part adults are still putting 20-30 kids in hard desks in square rooms, talking at them, and requiring them to regurgitate what we told them. 

To use Zuboff's terms, we have "automated" some aspects of education with technology: attendance, grading, lectures, and communication. But what we have yet to do is "infomate it" - do things we could not do before there was technology. What would real cultural change look like in education?

  • All students would have meaningful Individual Education Plans specifically written to their learning styles and needs.
  • Classrooms would be truly differentiated with all students learning in their own way, at their own pace. Chronological segregation would not happen.
  • Personal motivation and relevance for learning would be a prime ingredient in education.
  • Constructivism would be the main pedagogy, not a once-a-year term paper or project.
  • Data mining would genuinely determine the most effective teaching methods, teachers, and conditions for learning.
  • Distance learning would be the norm, opening huge opportunities for students to learn according to interest from the very best instructors.
  • Gaming would be standard practice and teachers would be game coaches.
  • Schools would be genuinely pleasant places where students want to be.
  • Assessments would measure individual growth over time and mastery of demonstrable skills, not compare students to artificial norms at snapshots in time.

We seem poised in our technology efforts to make some of these school culture changes. I am not holding my breath for any of these things to happen, but you never know.

I am still waiting for the cultural shift. In five years, I'll check again. Sigh...

* Yesterday - Digital Learning Day - both our webserver and Moodle server went down. Do servers think this is DLD is a national holiday and they are federal employees?

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