Want to Minimize Culture Shift? Then Don’t Bother.

Let me jump right in and unpack the following session description from a recent EdTech conference.

Putting the Pieces Together
Is incorporating technology the dreaded “one more thing” teachers feel you’re adding to their already full plates? In this workshop we will cover how to minimize the culture shift by maximizing the use of planning time to create standards- based Technology Rich Rigorous Lessons. The focus will be on creating interactive lesson activities based on curriculum standards and how RBI, SAMR and TPACK can be interwoven into lesson planning. These tools will allow students to begin to utilize technology to maximize the potential.

In case you are not sure what to make of this session description, the session titled “Putting the Pieces Together” is a sad commentary on the field of EdTech for a number of reasons. The most egregious being this session was accepted as an EdTech conference session in the first place. To be fair, I did not attend this session. I was not at this conference that occurred recently in a southern state.

Let me break this session down line by line.

Is incorporating technology the dreaded “one more thing” teachers feel you’re adding to their already full plates?

Notice this session is not designed for classroom teachers. This session is for school leaders. In 2016, if incorporating technology is “the dreaded ‘one more thing’” then as a school leader you have failed to provide an appropriate vision of why you are asking teachers to incorporate technology. Or perhaps your teachers feel this way because they have failed to be properly trained to use technology. Or worse, they are happy to do the same things they have done in the past in very teacher-centered ways. Either way, the first statement is not student-focused at all.

In this workshop we will cover how to minimize the culture shift by maximizing the use of planning time to create standards-based Technology Rich Rigorous Lessons.

This is quite the conundrum. We are asking teachers to incorporate technology in the first sentence, but then the session covers “how to minimize the culture shift . . .” That should be appalling. As a school leader, if incorporating technology is not creating dramatic culture shifts in your building, then you have made a serious philosophical, financial and pedagogical error. If you want to minimize the cultural shift, then my suggestion is to keep doing what is being done, and not waste further time and effort to bring in technology into your school. I cannot see how the vision and goal around bringing the wonders and capabilities of the Information Age to students should be any less than a dramatic culture shift. Unfortunately, I know there were probably a few educators who attended this session looking for the tricks and secrets on just how to minimize culture shift. “Minimize the culture shift” is code for “keep education teacher-centered.”

The focus will be on creating interactive lesson activities based on curriculum standards and how RBI, SAMR and TPACK can be interwoven into lesson planning.

Honestly, I have not heard of “RBI.” But I have written extensively on how SAMR may be misused, overused and is not pedagogically sound considering it is an overly simplistic model that does not measure learning in any way. And instead of focusing on student-centered ideas, the presenter again looks for focus on teacher-centered ideas.

These tools will allow students to begin to utilize technology to maximize the potential.

This is the most fascinating sentence of the session description. The previous three sentences have been teacher-centered. But after all these teacher-centered statements, the final sentence says that students will “. . . begin to utilize technology to maximize potential.” How? What student-centered ideas have been presented that would tap ideas of student intrinsic motivation, or student self-efficacy, or student ownership or student agency? That is a rather dramatic shift away from what has been proposed for this session.

It is important to ask yourself why a session such as this one was included in a fairly large conference. Conferences are not meant to be echo chambers or bring forth diminishing ideas. A keynote speaker or a featured/spotlight speaker should provoke critical thoughts. EdTech is stagnant. We have become too focused on technological wonders, too happy to check a box on a lesson plan that says “Technology,” and we are missing out on the opportunity to dramatically shift our school cultures towards student-centered opportunities by perpetuating ideas in sessions such as this one.

Reference

Udaipur IND — Street shot” by Daniel Mennerich is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Originally published at www.e-ohagan.com on June 25, 2016.

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