EdTech is not about devices. I cannot write that enough times.
Ed tech is Not.
Edtech is about people, both in groups and alone. It’s about how we interact with our colleagues, with our students, and with other members of our school community. If you read “The Medium is the Massage” by McLuhan (my personal Edtech bible) or “Here Comes Everybody” by Clay Shirky, the importan impact of technology is written of not in terms of how it impacts workflow, but in how it impacts the relationships between people.
Simply put, technology enhances leverage.
Technology provides us with the greatest opportunity to bring people together in the history of mankind. It also allows us to exclude with impunity, faster and more efficiently. It allows for more people to get involved in something great, while simultaneously allowing for massive evil to happen. Technology is amoral, but it creates conditions under which people can exponentially increase the reach of their good or bad intentions.
Nowhere do I see this more clearly than in schools. Teachers are inundated with messages about technology, specifically the type of messages that are essential “HERE’S HOW MY APP CAN HELP STUDENTS IMPROVE TEST SCORES!” Not surprisingly, they’re skeptical of edtech. And for good reason. The conversation rarely is one about forward-looking pedagogy, or ways in which students can gain a more authentic experience, or how we can all learn together. Technology can be used to drive a wedge between the faculty that are “on board,” and those that are not.
And thus a human solution is required.
In our school, we’re attempting to address the growing role of technology in the classrooms. We want to leverage tech to do amazing things, not drive people apart. As such, we’re approaching EdTech as a cultural and sociological phenomenon rather than a technological one. The pathway to success may take longer to recognize, but it will be open to everyone in ways that allow them to connect and discover all the great things they can do together.
At the beginning, we’ve organized a series of informal gatherings for interested faculty members to sit together and discuss the future of the school. We’re calling them “Learner Lunches.” They’re part book club, part big idea group, and part brainstorming session(s). Ideally, they are just an opportunity to make space for ideas, connections, and maybe come up with something we never thought of before. These are informal, thought driven exercises open to everyone on staff that might turn into something tangible, but at the very least will be an opportunity for us to think big together.
In this way, we’re approaching technology with our focus on human relationships, not shiny toys. We want teachers to have input, connect with and learn from one another, and have a stake in the future of education at our school. In this way, there is no set agenda other than forward momentum. We want to shift our culture towards the future in an organic, meaningful way, and while progress may not be linear, it needs to be real.
In schools, a culture shift doesn’t come from a mandate–it comes from a series of small conversations that grow until they’re ubiquitous: a school-wide ethos. And maybe, just maybe, it starts with lunch.