If you walk about talking to people about the ‘wow’ of the week, your favourite Web2.0 gizmo this week, sooner or later people switch off. The honeymoon period is over. Initial interest can fade as people get lost in the fog of technology.
You might think what you are talking about is crystal clear, but others are simply looking into the murky unknown. Too many conversations, too many tools leads to confusion and inaction. At times I have thought, ‘wow, I thought they were getting it, but what happened?’
Now I have learned that from an educational development perspective, there are some critical questions you have to ask yourself before saying much of anything.
For example : I want to create podcasts for my distance students. How do I do that?
The easy answer is : Audacity, Podomatic and a microphone. But that answer is incomplete.
We have to also ask
- How will what I do/say next build independence, so they can sustain this?
- How will the way I maintain this build capacity in the department to do more?
- How will this intervention in the established ‘norm’ – strengthen learning?
We want to ensure that whatever we do to develop education creates independence in those we help. This adds value, and prevents you being the ‘go to tech’ person – to ‘do’ it for them.
How will your instruction be recorded, shared or published so that it can be re-used by others repeatedly. What is the cost of this? Developing a resource such as a wiki or creating a screen cast has is a cost outside that of the mastery skills needed. This is normally measured as your time.
If you are able to create an independent teacher, with supporting materials – then they will be able to model the educational development in others.
Locating and aggregating quality supporting resources will strengthen learning. This could be connecting the person with people who have experience and passion in this area (their blog, wiki or actually having a conversation).
Setting out terms of reference to evaluate the benefits to learning will assist in turning the intervention in the existing ‘norms’ in to a measured argument to sustain or modify it. It is likely that un-seen factors will affect this. Bumps in the road, such as access issues, technical issues or policy issues. Documenting and addressing these will help with maintaining the use of the technology over a period of time, not being a one off field trip.
Educational development requires more activity than the act of ‘teaching how’, it has to predict issues, challenges and further opportunities that will create independent advocates, that build capacity to do it again and again. This has always been the issue with ICT in schools – how to maintain and build on any given ICT introduced into learning. The major difference today, than a few years ago, is the amount of existing freely available materials and connected intelligence that we can draw on.
We simply don’t need to show people everything, but we do need to ensure that we scaffold resources and provide wider information that they can explore, knowing that it has been provided a result of our own evaluation.
Three questions I ask myself, whenever someone asks me for help.