About Plan B

It was with great interest that I read the article “The Ethics of Mobile Learning: Troubling and Complex” this morning.  The author shares some thoughts about societal norms and attitudes in a discussion about mobile technology as a possible answer to educational issues in developing countries.  It’s an interesting read and I can’t comment on the societal aspect as my knowledge is limited to what I’ve read and not what I’ve experienced.

But, I can comment on my own experience with technology and education.  You can’t read any article about technology infusion into a school system that doesn’t include massive amounts of professional development for teachers.  It’s necessary everywhere to create that culture of eager technology learners.  Nobody is apologetic about it.  Teachers just want to do the best that they can.  So, is working the Web 2.0 tools the answer?  In a perfect world, it offers so much.

Do we live in a perfect world?

Mmmm.  No.

It was last night that I read this message from @mbteach, a pretty sharp educator from Philadelphia.  She’s very active on social networks and when she shares some of the amazing things that she’s doing with her students, you can’t help but be so impressed.  Obviously, she teaches in a perfect world, right?  After all, Philadelphia is a pretty sophisticated city.  It was with surprise that I read this Twitter message from her last evening.

There’s at least two things to take away from this.

  • She’s planning ahead, knowing the limitations of her situation;
  • She’s reaching out to her vast network of almost 10 000 for new and innovative ideas for her Plan B.

You’ve got to love the web.  Even those of us who think we live online know that things can go south in a moment’s notice.  I know that when I’m using the web, I always have a Plan B in my pocket.  A classic example would be the Great OSLA Faceoff with my friend @zbpipe.  Here we are at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in the big hall set for 5 000 people.  You’ve got to believe that internet access wouldn’t get much better.  And yet, before we went live, we cached everything that we were going to do as our Plan B.  In fact, I’m hard pressed to think of any internet presentation that I’ve done that I didn’t have something backed up on my computer or a USB key or something.

In fact, any experienced teacher has a Plan B in her/his pocket.  Only someone incredibly naive would rely totally on technology and connections when it’s show time.  Could you imagine a school district that licenses a piece of lesson plan software and then mandates every teacher in the system to use it and only it?  It’s a recipe for disaster.

Even with this post, I’m writing it offline because of my pathetically slow and unreliable internet connection and just hope that I can upload it later.

As a teacher in that classroom, you’ve got two alternatives when things go wrong.

  • Implement your Plan B;
  • Click harder, bang the monitor, check the cables, wiggle the keyboard, scream “I told you it wouldn’t work”, weep.

Back to the original story – yes, we have to deal with the ethics, society and norms, but a complete discussion needs to talk about never-ending professional learning opportunities, including options for Plan B.

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OTR Links 01/24/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.