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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Algorithms, learning curves, data and change.



In a series of strange events for my life, I spent 45 minutes with the chief operating officer of a fortune 500 company yesterday. The discussion we had was an interesting one. As he discussed the significance technology plays in his world, I found myself grinning. Unlike many companies in his industry, the company he works for doesn't believe that every client is cookie-cutter; they do believe that leveraging technology can play a major role in personalizing each client's experience for the better with their company. 

As I sat there with him and two other people, I realized that the conversation we were having was one that I find myself having on a regular basis in the educational world. I do believe that technology will be a major support and game changer for teachers. I do not believe that technology can lead to the best mode of personalization without the help of a trained professional to guide the process. In the educational world this professional is the teacher. 

Much like teachers fear that technology may one day replace them, I realized that employees in other industries have the same fears. We talked about algorithms, learning curves and data. While one employee shook his head that the human factor would always do a better job than a computer in analyzing individuals, the COO (and myself) disagreed with him. I shared that I don't think his job would ever go away, it would just morph into something other than what he currently knows. 

In some weird way I enjoyed the fact that a fortune 500 company is dealing with some of the same fears, excitement, and unknowns as I am as an instructional technologist in a school of 1400 students. It was the biggest "future ready" slap in the face of reality that I have had in a very long time. It also reminded me of how relevant my work is to life for my students. Change is scary for individuals but if the goal is to best meet student/client needs, then change must be considered.

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