Saturday, November 8, 2014

Changing Education?

Yesterday I had the pleasure to attend and participate in a panel at Tech & Learning's Tech Forum Texas.  I had never attended this event before.  I was asked to participate in a panel on cultivating student wonder and voice.  I was proud to share some of the amazing things our students are doing.

At the end of the day, I heard another participant remark at how the fun the day was and how her content specific conferences were nothing like this.  This got me thinking...

I used to be a conference junkie.  I loved seeing friends, being around like minded people and LEARNING! I love to learning.  I love to think.  I love to try to solve the problems in education.  But I haven't really enjoyed conferences since EdCampAwesome in February.  This really has very little to do with the actual conference and more to do with my state of mind.  But, I will say the conferences didn't help me overcome my crankiness.

What I loved about yesterday's conference was that there was very little discussion of the latest and greatest technology tools outside the vendor area.  There was no sessions trying to convince us why the latest and greatest tool was 'transformational'.

The sessions were focused on how to improve education.  Technology is certainly a part of that discussion but technology is no the end all be all.  I know, that sounds crazy coming from a technology integrator on a technology blog but hang with me.

The chief complaint about education is that we continue to use the industrial, one size fits all model.  However, so many people are trying to improve education with a new one size fits all model. 

Pick one:

  • "One to one is the answer" 
  • "BYOD will change education" 
  • "This device is transforming learning" 
  • "Project Based Learning is the only way to go" 
  • "Augmented Reality is a game changer" 
  • "You have to have a maker space" 
  • "Insert your catch phrase here"

My growing disillusion with the Tech Conference has been these competing voices.  People shouting at the Emperor that his new clothes are beautiful and the only way to go.

I enjoyed spending the day yesterday with educators that are willing to tell the Emperor that he's naked.  Those who understand that the work of improving education is messy and hard.  They get that focusing on students is the necessary first step to changing education.

Students are different. What they need is different.  So it will be difficult for schools to accept one pitchman's solution and make meaningful change for their students.  They will have to be diligent to investigate all possible solutions and pick the combination of solutions that will work best for their students.

You're question might be "Aimee, will you stop sharing technology resources?" No I will not.  I love using technology in classrooms.  Effective technology integration is a vital part of transforming schools.  I want to continue to share those ideas with you.  I want to hear your ideas.  I want to think and write about the business of transforming schools.  I want to think big thoughts and feel big feelings.  I want you to do these things too.  Share your ideas with us.

Education should be about doing what's best for students and not what's easy for adults.  Let's get busy!

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