For one of my previous ed-tech assignments, my classmates and I were encouraged to seek examples of pieces of technology that were on its way to extinction given the new technologies and resources now available. It was rather an interesting and eye-opening assignment. Some talked about the pending extinction of landlines, public telephones, the fax machine, and various digital storage formats. Others talked about public libraries, the post office, and TVs. Even long after I submitted my work, I found that I continued to think and reflect about the rapid nature of technology and the striking differences between how business and education approach technology.
These thoughts were spurred on one day when my significant other accidentally dropped his flip cell-phone, and bemoaned the fact that he could no longer purchase the same model from our phone company if he broke it. His comment prompted me to do a quick search on the company website, and I was stunned to see that he was right. Flip cellphones were considered out-dated, and the market now only sold and offered upgrades for smart-phones, multimedia phones, and other Internet-capable devices. Unfortunately these updated multi-functioning phones also came with an expensive catch — one must purchase the accompanying data-plan. In one fell swoop, our phone company brought its customers forward into the 21st century.
By phasing out obsolete technology, we as customers are not given an option to stay in the past. The cellphone technology has changed so rapidly that it has become common-place to have multi-functioning phones with touch-screen features, and 3G Internet browsing. Customers, like my significant other, who have simpler preferences and only one function for a cellphone–to make a phone call–are out of luck. They either have to buy in, or get left behind. It’s bad for our wallets, but nevertheless, it’s a brilliant move on the company’s part.
I think the education field can learn a lot from this particular approach. It seems that businesses are moving forward with the speed of change, while most schools are still crawling in the dust in regards to ideas and policies on educational technology. Businesses see technology as an opportunity, while education perceives it as a problem–another thing that must be addressed, taken care of, or tacked on to a growing list of things-to-do. From what I have observed, planning and implementation of technology in schools rarely address issues such as digital citizenship, online collaborative communities, assessment of technology-assisted work, and adequate teacher professional development.
What if the education field phased out the traditional methods and uses of technology in the classroom? What leadership programs made it mandatory for administrators to teach and use technology for professional use? What if administrators made it mandatory for staff to use technology consistently and in meaningful ways in their instruction? What if we were all held accountable to take technology courses and do action research to update our teaching licenses?
What if we too in education kept up with the speed of change?
“Cellphone Generations” by Hockeyshooter
“Max Speed 15 km/h” by xxxtoff