Thursday, June 26, 2008

Inside Ed-Tech's OODA Loop

Scott McLeod:

So when a new tool comes out – Twitter, Diigo, whatever – maybe we should hold off for a bit before we start blabbing to educators who don’t live as close to the ed tech edge as we do. Maybe we should voluntarily follow a process that looks something like this:


I believe that an emphasis on pilot testing, experimentation, and identification of both mainstream educator use(s) and optimal training mechanisms before introduction to other educators often would help us quite a bit. Instead of turning off the very educators that we want using many of these tools, some time spent in the ed tech quarantine might go a long way toward facilitating our overall goal of greater technology adoption in K-12 classrooms.

The problem here, and it is a big one, is that in the large majority of cases by the time ed-tech gets through that quarantine period, the web tool in question is either dead or sold out, straining under either increasing advertising or lack of revenue. Or simply out of fashion. Imagine MySpace coming out of "quarantine" now. Or Second Life. Or even Flickr.

In terms of actual implementation implementation web 2.0's OODA loop is so far inside ed-tech's it is like comparing a wedding ring to a hula hoop, and the correct response isn't to imagine a world where we train teachers in five new technologies every year, most of them replacing last year's. It is to make or find stable, open source tools that can be managed and hosted by schools, improved and extended year over year.


Scott McLeod said...

Tom, I think this is a good point. Educators are notoriously slow at change (of any kind). They are far less nimble than many other societal sectors. I don't know how long the quarantine should be. Somehow we have to balance the need to curb the irrational exuberance that often accompanies a new tool with the need to expose educators to important technological developments. Of course that process will look different in every school organization.

I particularly like your next-to-last sentence (about teacher training). I sort of understand your last sentence. While I see the value of building upon evolutionary open source tools, when those tools are first introduced, won't they need to go the same kind of process for which I advocated in my post? Maybe I'm missing something...

Thanks for the link. Hope to see you at NECC!

Tom Hoffman said...

Hi Scott,

I'm skipping NECC this year...

To try to clarify what I mean in the last sentence, let's say that despite the pace of change, there are fairly stable categories in play. Like, social networking sites. These are going to turn over like hip nightclubs for basically the rest of our lives, with incremental improvements, but still basically the same genre.

So basically, by the time you're ready to teach teachers LiveJournal, everyone's talking about MySpace, when you're ready to teach MySpace, everyone's using Facebook, etc. ad nauseum.

OTOH, if you're using elgg, it is never as hip as the SSN of the moment, but it is no lamer as the last SSN of the moment, especially because you can assimilate new features as they crop up over the years. Adding features is much easier than moving networks.