Last week I was delivering the keynote address at a conference in Dayton (the Paris of Ohio). After I was finished I was asked several times a question I have heard many times before:
“Do you have a book?”
For years I have wanted to write a book about where I see education heading. I’ve started to put words to paper (pixels to screen) only to despair and write a blogpost or Twitter entry instead (140 characters is so much more manageable…some days I have to struggle to find this much).
However, as I feel time’s winged chariot more acutely each year, I know that my times and opportunities are limited, so I want to give it one more try. At present, the book will be called:
“Here There Be Dragons,” Sailing Off the Map into a New World of Education
I hope to talk about my vision of how education is changing and how educators at all levels can mange this change. Many of the thoughts come from my most recent talk of the same name. I want to reflect from this place in the middle, no longer selling the idea of tech, but not knowing exactly how things will turn out.
I want to focus on this for the next five months, not writing blog posts during this time. (I know you think that I stopped writing long ago). Anyway, I hope to resume with the 2014 version of “The 24 Blogposts of Christmas” on December 1.
An article I was working on recently hit the heart of my thinking, and I will probably use this as the preface. The opening will serve as my last post for a while. The full article will be available in Momentum Magazine
Wish me luck!
Life on the Other Side of a Tipping Point
Nothing is more stimulating to a cause than significant opposition. We in Catholic education gravitate by nature to the underdog position, fighting against overwhelming forces of intractability and ignorance, armed only with our idealism and passion. We are fueled by a vision of a better world of education, energized to challenge all who believe otherwise. However, occasionally a time comes, in education and in life, when the challenging idea prevails over the opposition and becomes the new establishment. Ironically, this is the time when we are most challenged as educators and reformers as our vision becomes reality.
Such a time faces us now in the field of educational technology. Gone are the heady days of predicting radical transition of classroom instruction to educators convinced that what was always would be. There is nothing shocking about a presenter who urges schools toward 1:1 instruction, blended learning, or flipped classrooms, as many of these are the current reality of large percentages of the audience. Phrases like “21st Century Skills,” “Digital Immigrants,” or “Sage on the Sage vs Guide on the Side” are beginning to sound trite, old banners of a past campaign. While we know that schools and teachers are in all stages of digital evolution, there is a strong collective agreement on direction toward digital tools and resources. A few skirmishes still take place on the periphery, but even these feel like the dying moans of a bygone time.
The term tipping point has existed long before educational technology, but it was brought into popular understanding mainly through Malcolm Gladwell’s 2000 book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. In this book, Gladwell explored how a variety of forces work together to create substantial change. All of these forces push against an existing reality or perception and over time reach a boiling point, irrevocably overturning the old and introducing a new dominant reality.
In the past few years there has been a tipping point in attitudes and approaches to technology in education. The belief that technology will have no effect or limited effect is no longer dominant. The point has tipped, and it is not tipping backward again. Even the most traditional of instructors grudgingly accept that technology is here to stay.
It is a exciting experience to have envisioned change and see the idea catch on. Conversations can start with assumptions that were once a point of argument. Ideas that were once dreams start appearing in classrooms. Things don’t work, and then they do work.
However, in the midst of these successes, another voice is present. It stirs in the hearts of the most fervent advocates.