I’ve received a few grumpy emails from people over the last several weeks.
I can understand how people might feel that way. A few of my posts have had the distinct leaning of my having COMS (Cranky Old Man Syndrome). But actually, nothing could be further from the truth. I think the edtech industry is maturing. And I believe that is bringing us a new set of challenges. Corporations smell the enormous amounts of money that is being spent by schools and districts. They have responded by offering a new set of products for us to purchase. This is their job.
But just as the title of this session at educon that I would have loved to attend says – you can’t buy change.
Change is not a product that you can simply throw money at.
Change is not a new set of classroom ipads, or ipods, or Smart boards, or cameras.
Change is built on practice and research. Change is built on what actually takes place in classrooms. Change is a process that grows, is cyclical and needs to be supported (or squashed).
Change certainly requires us to look at the tools we use in our classrooms, but it can’t stop there. That is too simplistic. Change requires us to deeply examine our pedagogy. It requires us to reexamine our curricula and find ways to construct meaningful experiences and inquiries with our students. To change we must examine what counts as knowledge in our classrooms and think about how our assessments reach into those depths to look for evidence of achievement.
I am more than happy to promote all of the great companies and people and products that bring us into places where change is supported. Corporations that make innovative, accessible and interesting products. Corporations that provide spaces for teachers to examine what they do and how they do those things. People who support those changes. What does make me unhappy though is when any individual or corporation becomes too dominant in the debate. When people more closely associated with a product or a service than a classroom or a school begins to talk about how learning or change happens, it makes me grumpy and worried about where we are headed. I am not prepared to hand over what happens in my classroom to anyone who is not prepared to spend a lot of hours in my space learning about my kids, our goals, and our context. Teaching is a complex business so I’m always worried (and often admittedly cynical) about products that tell me they are going to make things “simple,” or “easy.” While we all appreciate things that make our classroom lives a little easier to handle, simple often comes at a price and I’m often not prepared to pay it.
So lets not let the shiny gadgets distract us from what we are really doing here – helping kids to live in a global changing world. And no, you can’t buy that.