As I work more with educational technology, it strikes me that progress is normally achieved through risk. It is possible to “tread water” for too long, and have established achievements gradually wither in value.
For example, many schools have standardized deployments in technology throughout the school. There may be sets of desktops in every classroom, and projectors and smartboards, or laptop carts, and all of these deployments had clear objectives when they were made. The tech staff may know these installations well, and have good maintenance plans and spares.
As time passes, however, the set of activities capable of being supported by these deployments may become repetitive or even discontinued. The learning and integration goals may be met, but in doing so a plateau is reached. It may be a great place to be for several years, but permanently?
Schools need to move forward. Not just in the technology area, but in the ways we think about students and their learning. I agree with Jim Collins (Good to Great) that technology can be an accelerator and enhance the effectiveness and progress of new ideas, but I have also always believed that technology can enable us to look at things from new perspectives. That means that technology pilot programs can inform the decision-making process, instead of just being used as an enhancement of decisions and new directions.
No one likes to hit a wall, but in reality it’s an opportunity (and call to arms) to try new ideas. That’s where the technology pilot programs for innovative ideas are most interesting and perhaps essential. It’s also where there is a risk of failure, a loss of investment, or a tarnishing of reputations. But what’s the point of having capital in these areas if it’s not invested somehow?
That’s the next level.