Tech Be Nimble
"There's nothing transformative about every kid having an iPad unless you're able to reach higher-order teaching and learning...If schools take all this technology, and use it like a textbook, or just have teachers show PowerPoint [presentations] or use drill-and-kill software, they might as well not even have it."
Agreed. You can find the full article here, but the short version is this: until we fundamentally change the way we teach, throwing money into ed. tech. will do nothing to improve student achievement. If you're even loosely connected to an institution of public education, you've probably heard two types of stories: 1) one or two spectacular examples of teachers going above and beyond to integrate rich and robust uses of technology into student-centered classrooms with learning (!) and collaboration (!), and 2) all the rest of the stories.
When teachers use technology to replace an existing practice, rather than to transform the way they teach, nothing really changes. There's nothing revolutionary about reading a book on a screen instead of paper (with the exception of those readers who benefit from being able to customize text size and contrast). Instead, we need to focus on ways to shift from content-deliverers to creation-facilitators. Students need teachers who can guide them in learning how to use digital tools as well as learning how to create and collaborate with those tools. That's what's going to make our students college and career ready.
In my recent Internet wanderings I got lost on a click-through walkabout and came across an idea that Christopher Surdak calls the "Digital Trinity": Social Media, Mobility, and Data Analytics make up a trifecta of influences that are changing the way we think and behave as consumers. The original piece is probably a little tl;dr for casual readers, but I'll summarize it here. Writing from a business perspective, Surdak identifies six impacts of the trinity on consumers:
Whether you agree that these are reasonable expectations really doesn't matter; what does matter is that it's a near-certainty that our public schools aren't going to be able to keep up with them without a radical paradigm shift. Instead, schools like High Tech High and AltSchool are emerging as alternatives, promising things like "micro-school communities" and "personalization, adult world connection, common intellectual mission, and teacher as designer."
Needs change. Technology changes. The best educational technology stays nimble.