Monday, December 21, 2015

Putting the Cart Before the Horse: Ubiquitous Computing in the Digital Age

On a recent flight back to San Diego, I read with delight Alan November’s article, Why Schools Must Move Beyond One-to-One Computing. His point was not to move onto the next “techno-fad” as we have witnessed so many times in public education, but to conduct serious soul searching as to why we are committing massive resources to technology initiatives that have yet to prove their worth.

The amount of public funding totaling in the billions of dollars that has been spent for what November calls “$1,000 pencil programs” should cause us all to contemplate, why? Sadly, the overwhelming excuse originates from a misguided attempt to transform a school system overnight into a 21st Century learning environment. As November notes, “Adding a digital device to the classroom without a fundamental change in the culture of teaching and learning will not lead to significant improvement.” Maybe before committing sizable dollars for the next 1:1, 1 to x, or BYOD initiative, we should first consider the human element; namely, a school staff member’s readiness level to partake in the change process.

One of the driving forces behind the 20th Anniversary Edition of the LoTi Digital Age Survey is to do just that—determine those variables that impact an individual’s willingness to change how they teach, how they interact with one another, and how they use digital resources in the classroom. Before committing to the goal of implementing a full-blown ubiquitous computing environment, should we not take time to factor in the possible impact that school climate and teacher perceptions might have on a seven-or eight-figure technology investment? As November and countless other professionals have warned us, the pivotal questions should not surround, “What technology should we buy?” but rather focus more on culture-related issues encompassing teaching and learning as well as human factors that directly affect the change process.