Moving Schools to Transformation

Technology Planning Web, (c) 1995, Jeffrey L. Hunt


How do we move schools to transformation and away from “tool use” and “integration?”  The diagram above is from my dissertation research where I recommended a planning model, I called the “Technology Planning Web.”

In that research I concluded that technology policy formulation “focused on collecting the objects of technology . . .”  Today the focus continues on that collection.  As I follow technology experts in many social media, their talk is about “web 2.0,” “social networking,” “twitter in schools,” and such — today’s collection compared to yesterday’s collection — modems, CD ROMS, and the like.

Further, I noted that the substance of educational technology initiatives was affected by “outside input from magazines, newspapers and [other] school districts that were perceived to be in more advanced stages of hardware and software implementation.”

As I wrote in a recent posting, schools are either at the tool stage — let’s buy “stuff” — or at the integration stage.  Neither focuses on learning.

In the above diagram, I include the copyright information for some absurdity because the concept is not new in the educational technology field and surely in the instructional design field.  Planning around learning goals should be the focus of transforming schools, not skills, tools, or integration.

The diagram shows that factors are inter-related and dependent on each other.  When the focus is on learning, then the hardware and software selection follow.

For example, the research is becoming clearer about the application of interactive whiteboards in classrooms.  In a British study, researchers concluded that classrooms that used whiteboards “had a faster pace and less time was spent on group work.”  So if we want students to collaboratively work in groups, the research indicates that less of this may happen when a whiteboard is in the classroom.  So the rush to push for interactive whiteboards in classrooms may work against initiatives for students working together.  Further, is the faster pace appropriate for the student to learn?

I discount research studies that test hardware and software in classrooms and then compare the learning results with classrooms without the hardware and software.  The research should focus on the methodologies and then test the best ways to mediate or automate them.  Learning is an issue of methodologies, not technologies.

So the focus should be on learning, the methodologies and modalities of learning, then selecting the appropriate hardware and software that support that learning.  When schools embrace learning supported by hardware and software, they immediately step into transformation.  The focus goes to learning goals, not the accumulation of stuff.  When transformation occurs, the classroom may take on a new appearance.  It will change the focus from teaching to learning.  Adults may be talking less in the classroom.

So the questions that schools ask themselves change, such as:

Incorrect:  What skills should our students have?
Correct:  What fluencies and competencies should our students have?

Incorrect:  What hardware should we have in our schools?
Correct:  What are the learning goals and activities?

Incorrect:  What do we want our classrooms to look like?
Correct:  How do we want our students to learn?  How do we want our teachers to teach?

Transformation can occur.  The question, “Will it?”

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