Friday, October 12, 2012

Innovation in Education

I've spent a fair amount of time considering the concept of "early adopters" and "laggards" (in reference to Rogers' theory "Diffusion of Innovations") as shown on the diagram in Scott McLeod's blog, "Dangerously Irrelevant." Usually I associate the first term with technology users, probably because my focus is almost always technology and its use. As I spend more time in the education world, I'm aware that these terms and, indeed the entire graphic could be applied to other areas - education being one of them.

Last month I had the privilege of attending a 1:1 conference at Lake Morey Resort, in Fairlee, VT. The Director of Information Technology, Paul Irish, spoke about devices and initiatives and referenced education as pendulum. He talked about technology's role in education and said "the pendulum has swung, and it isn't coming back." We have probably all heard educators say something to the effect that there's no point to learning about or initiating a new theory when, in another few years, there will be something new or we will return to the old - much like a pendulum. That said, there is no pendulum for technology. There never has been - just like we won't return to slates and chalk or the horse and buggy days. Technology is going to move forward, with or without us. Whether we are, by nature, an early adopter or a laggard, it is our responsibility to acknowledge technology's role in educating our children, redefining careers (including our own), and helping to shape new expectations. No, it isn't a panacea, it's simply a tool - but what a tool it is! We can't afford to be laggards; there's too much at stake.

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