April 28th, 2012 by John Rappold
Google Glasses are not yet available as a consumer product, but there is no doubt that within days of their release you’ll see an article on how to use them in the classroom. I have a problem with that.
It’s difficult even for those involved with tech to keep pace with sometimes daily changes in the industry. I spend roughly 90 minutes a day reading general tech, job-related (web design, app development), and EdTech news. There are trends in EdTech that I find to be detrimental to Education.
THE NEXT BIG THING
I recently read articles on using pinterest and QRcodes in the classroom, and although I don’t use either, I am familiar with them. It seems that for every online service, social network, app, etc., someone thinks it should be used in the classroom. Maybe many of them can, but the articles touting these technologies are mostly poor in core concepts and learning outcomes. If I’m an educator who knows nothing about QRcodes I’ll probably not learn anything about the technology itself from an article using it for classroom projects. No context for the basics of the technology are given within the article or through hyperlinks. Most articles on using tech in the classroom seem to have the attitude of “let’s throw out some ideas and see what sticks”.
Secondly, did the author bother to take the time to actually try the ideas in the classroom? How did it affect learning? As a teacher, do I want to spend valuable classroom time beta testing suggested projects from an article that the author didn’t bother to test?
ITS ALSO ABOUT HARDWARE
I use an iPad, and love it. It has fundamentally changed how I interact with the Internet, read, and my creative uses for music and photography. Would I implement an iPad lab somewhere in a school district? Yes. Would I implement the iPad throughout the district? No.
I’m reading articles on district-wide rollouts of iPads, and it bothers me a bit. Hopefully the districts have done some studies on outcomes, either through testing in a small lab environment, or through written studies. The tablet market is young, and when implementing new hardware, other factors need to be taken into consideration.
For example, what does it take to provide support for the iPad? How does the district stop students and teachers from downloading unauthorized apps? Do Android tablets offer better features for support? Will the upcoming Windows 8 tablets integrate better with the district network and productivity software?
You may have guessed that I would wait until the tablet market is more stable before rushing into a complete district implementation.
The most harmful aspect of the rush to embrace new technology is how teachers are essentially being forced into the equivalent of a High School clique.
You don’t use pinterest in your classroom? What’s wrong with you? Still using Google+? That’s so last year. C’mon, everyone’s flipping their classroom.
So, if I don’t use some of these technologies I can’t be part of the cool kids. Sad, but this seems to be the philosophy of a lot of EdTech. If I’m a teacher who likes using tech, but is not particularly savvy, I would find all of this overwhelming and discouraging. Why bother to learn new tech, if someone decides in six months I need to stop what I’m doing and adopt something new?
Maybe EdTech should take a lead from commercial business. We know many corporations are still using Windows XP as their main computing system. Why? Because it works. They know rolling out a new OS is expensive in hardware and software costs, as well as in training employees.
I think it may be time for EdTech to slow down on the constant desire to change, and give teachers some breathing room.