Technology does not equal innovation, but using technology is often crucial to innovation.
Lately I have been doing things a little different in my workshops. Instead of slowing down and showing step-by-step every little thing that I am doing with technology, I am purposefully going fast and showing people the speed of how quickly I can get things done amazingly well with the technology. I talked about this recently in my post titled, “Spoon-Fed Learning”, and we far too often make others dependent upon us to learn. If I show you that what I am doing is truly valuable, many people will feel compelled to learn it on their own. I have noticed this during my workshops when I watch people sign up for twitter accounts on their own, but I never once tell them to do so. They see the value, so they figure it out. Is what you are showing compelling enough for people to want to do it on their own? That’s the hard work.
Yet technology does not equate to innovation.
But you still see so many districts and schools go out and buy one-to-one devices for their students, not because it is going to be beneficial, but because they feel the pressure from the district across the way. You now are seeing districts do the same thing by gravitating towards putting “innovation” in the title of a huge amount of their employees. They feel they should be doing something different, but they don’t necessarily know why. They can really muddy the waters by taking their “technology” positions and replacing the word with “innovation”, without doing anything different, because people see this thinking as a fad; this too shall pass. New tools with the same thinking is not innovation. In fact, if technology accelerates and amplifies everything, when you use technology to accelerate and amplify bad practice, we are in trouble.
But if you understand technology deeply, it can also accelerate innovation. Simply using and knowing how to use a google form is not “innovative”, but using a google form to have kids aggregate resources on a particular topic and then critically assessing the information they have provided, and sharing it with others, could be innovative practice. If it is truly innovative, it will eventually become best practice. (See image below)
What we have to realize is that learning the technology is not the innovation; it is what you do with it that becomes “new and better” which embodies the innovation we seek. Yet, similar to someone who writes novels, they must first learn to read and write. This is why the “basics” and “innovation” are connected. Learning is crucial to lay the foundation, but the basics are not the endpoint, just a beginning. But just as reading and writing are the “basics” before writing a book, understanding technology can lead to some amazingly innovative practices in our learning, and that of our students. It’s a process, but one we must be willing to venture on.
To learn effectively and to be innovative with the technology, we must first learn the technology. Yet if “learning the technology” is the endpoint, then “innovation” is just a buzzword in our schools, and will not become a reality.