Wednesday, October 11, 2006

...but does it work?

In response to a posting in the The "EdTech" Blog on "Study: Ed Tech Has Proven Effective".

One great thing about what I do, is that this question is not quite as important as it is to those of you who teach in the public school system. Since my focus is the self-directed, adult learner, much of my focus is on whether or not the tools allow them to feel like they got their money's worth out of a learning experience. Furthermore, much of what I wish to do, has it's foot in blended learning, and as such, there are several markers by which the participant gets to determine the worth of the class.

For those of you who teach in public school, you are doomed to teach on with the same folks you have always had to work with. To me, we both are faced with a public of "Creators/Innovators", "Early Adapters", "The Great Majority Who Will Eventually Accept Change", and "Those Who Refuse To Change". The biggest difference between me and some of you, is that most of my clients fall into the first and second groups, "Creators" and "Early Adapters". As such, I don't have to work near as hard to use technology in learning situations. If anything, I have to make sure that my technology is highly advanced and in many cases "state of the art".

That is not to say that I have not worked in similar situations as yours. I used to work in a place where everyone was supplied with a brand new high speed Dell laptop computer. But then they were forbidden to use it in the field to tap into the internet, either for email or for looking up useful guidance on the net, or even for collaborative projects or to file office reports. Instead, everything was "word processed" then downloaded to really nice Dell PCs in the office. The reason? "The Great Majority Who Will Eventually Accept Change" is just that.....the great majority. In order for any of us to leverage our position to get into the group of innovators and early adapters, we have to belong to groups where those are the norm, not the exception...and the public school system is just not there yet.

Studies like the one in the eSchool News article go a long way in providing those of us on the fringe with data to help shorten the "eventuality" of majority, but the article is really quite middle of the road....more like those in the "great majority" would like to read. And perhaps that is the problem. The middle ground seeks middle ground data out to protect it's middle groundn turf. The fringes (on both extremes) seek out their own corresponding articles. In order for eSchool News to be read and accepted it has to go very slowly.

On the whole, when all the articles are read and discussed, I think that we are going to find that it is the content and approach that drives the learning, not the technology. The technology is fun and exciting and it has bells and whistles, but you still have to satisfy someone. For me, its the early adapter, and for the rest of you, it's the great majority.

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