Where’s the focus?

A few years ago, I had a visitor to my office.  He was trying to sell me a license to a programming language for our schools.

I still remember the conversation as if it happened just yesterday.

Him:  I’m here to convince you to buy this programming language for your district’s Computer Science classes.

My response:  Why would I want to buy it?

His response:  Because it’s industry standard.

A little mental math here.  If I’m in Grade 10 and learned this language, the earliest I could be employed in industry would be seven years from now.

My response:  Will it still be industry standard seven years from now?

His response:  <crickets>

My response:  Tell me why it’s good for kids.

His response:  Because it’s industry standard.

He continues:  I could sell you a day’s training.

My response (choking on his words – remember you train dogs, not teachers):  What if one day isn’t enough?

He continues:  I could sell you more training.

Needless to say, we didn’t license the product.  However, a nearby board which likes to license the latest and shiniest did.  It wasn’t accepted by the teachers and didn’t last long.

This was one of those moments that reinforced a lot of things for me.  Certainly, industry and its progress has an impact on education and helps frame our approach, but do we drop everything just because industry does this or that?  Think just of the recent future.  How many seemingly great ideas have companies just dropped out of the blue?  From the end users’ perspective, it seems like it was done overnight but you just have to believe that it has been the result of a great deal of thought and analysis.

But in industry, things mostly evolve around the bottom line, sustainability, and a coherent business plan.  No company apologizes, except perhaps to its stakeholders, as it keeps its eye on the prize.

It’s not the same in education and it shouldn’t be.

I was in a conversation online the other day when this line appeared – “With our board’s focus on technology…”


Is that a mission statement?  Is that the focus for all educators in that board?  Is that the plan?  Have the educators all dropped out of the picture and someone else is steering the ship?

It doesn’t matter who made the statement.  Student – Teacher – Administrator – Parent- Computer Department – Local media

It’s wrong.  Period.

There definitely are people in education who need to look at the use of technology in education.  It was my job for years.  But the primary focus was never on technology.  It would have been on student achievement, the use of technology in learning, innovative ways of teaching with the assistance of technology, …

How many times do you see some new form of technology purchased, dropped in place, and then you hope that the magic happens?

Where’s the master plan?  Where’s the continuous professional learning?  Where’s the modelling?

We’re doing SAMR.  Really?  Well, in fact, you probably are since that model focuses on technology and not the learner.

If, to the end user, the “focus is on technology”, then there’s a big gap in the understanding of the purpose of technology.  Whoever owns that misunderstanding needs to find some way to fix it.

I could go on for hours on this but let me quote that famous blogger Colleen Rose.  “Stop. Please.

OTR Links 02/10/2016

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