Archive | April, 2014

Finite Resources and Infinite Tools: Tensions with Edtech Innovation

13 Apr

If you haven’t done it yet, watch Dan Meyer’s opening keynote from CUE14. Like most of Dan’s presentations, it was full of great models of innovative instruction.  I was particularly caught by the first ten minutes, when he talked about his frustrations as a teacher at edtech conferences. Here’s a tubechop of the specific portion:

Tubechop of 2014 CUE Keynote: Dan Meyer

Anyone who stands up at an edtech conference keynote speaking of his frustrations with educational technology is my hero!

It’s important to recognize those frustrations; particularly as they echo a lot of the feelings I often hear from teachers during technology PDs. It’s so easy for edtech evangelists (myself included) to get involved in groupthink, emphasizing the cool aspect of new tools over the practical application of those tools.

For my part, I use the word “innovation” way too much.  It’s hard to remember that not all teachers can automatically see how innovative edtech tools can redefine learning in exciting ways. For most teachers, the “substitution” phase of the SAMR model is a large leap. By pushing teachers to be “innovative,” I can see how to some it is emphasizing newness over sound pedagogy.

Screen capture from Dan Meyer's 2014 CUE keynote

Screen capture from Dan Meyer’s 2014 CUE keynote

Dan uses this image to represent the tension he often feels at edtech conferences, trying to reconcile the infinite tech tools available with the finite amount of resources available to teachers. Those resources include time instructing students and time for planning. There are only so many hours in the day, with so many things to do. Teachers can only jump on a particular edtech bandwagon if the cost of learning a new tool will be worth the effort.

So, while acknowledging this concern, what can we do? I ask this while I am in the midst of planning for technology instruction and implementation for the next year. I always try to respect and honor my teachers’ finite resources, and the demands put upon them, but I don’t want those limitations to inhibit our ability to prepare students for success in the 21st century.

Dan recommends creating your own edtech mission statement, and offers his own as an example. (Watch the full video of his keynote to learn more about how he looks for tools to capture, share, and resolve “perplexity.”)

I agree that having a personal edtech mission statement is key, but what about for those teachers who don’t have an inkling of how they would or should be using technology? How can we provide teachers guidance with technology if they don’t have the drive in themselves to attempt any innovations?

I’m thinking of tweaking upcoming PDs to focus on teachers creating their own edtech mission statements. To do this, I plan to start with our schoolwide technology vision, which is definitely worth refreshing.

I wonder if we should remove the word “innovation” altogether and instead focus on improving instructional practices through technology?

Dan Meyer’s Resources

2014 CUE Sessions:


dy/dan blog: “My Opening Keynote for CUE 2014”

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