Those of us who champion the adoption of new and emerging technologies to help improve and transform how teaching and learning is conducted in our schools are, by definition, doomed to failure.
And it has nothing to do with luddite colleagues, old-fashioned pedagogical views, unsympathetic management teams or misinformed parents, which are the usual reasons I always hear from those frustrated by seeming lack of progress in this respect. It’s all to do the very nature of what we espouse: technology itself.
The pace at which technology is moving forward is technology’s worst enemy when it comes to its adoption in schools. No sooner schools realise the learning potential of VHS video players, DVDs come out, leaving all those VHS tapes gathering dust in a cupboard. Once schools finally buy their first computers, complete with floppy disks drives, CD-ROMs become ubiquitous.
This is why many schools have hybrid VHS/DVD players and computers with both floppy disk and CD ROM drives. In many classrooms I’ve visited you can still watch a VHS video one minute, a DVD the next and then stream a video on demand from the school’s network or the internet. In the very same classroom you may be presented with the options of saving a document in a floppy disk, burning it onto a CD ROM, saving it on a portable flash drive or sending it directly to the cloud.
Schools are forever catching up… and the whole business is very, very expensive – both in terms of effort and money. No wonder then teachers and schools in general prefer the safe ground provided by the old instead of the shaky and insecure ground on which new technologies stand.
Now that some schools are taking the very brave step of rolling out tablets to all their pupils, it may be that touch-screen technology has already had its day. As Steve Wheeler points out, the future of computing is voice control, as anyone with an iPhone 4s is finding out.
So schools are doomed to only being able to embrace yesterday’s technology, because when they finally come round to doing the embracing… it’s too late.
Just a thought.
What do you think?