Saturday, March 11, 2017

How do I know what Contemporary tool will become a Classic?

  1. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Coca-Cola, Rolls-Royce, Gone With The Wind, The Beatles, MonaLisa, Piaget, Socrates, hamburgers, and phonics- all considered "Classics" by some. Enduring products, ideas, legends even under the scrutiny, dislike, and judgment of others. 
    According to Merriam Webster the definition of classic means "serving as a standard of excellence: of recognized value, traditional, enduring, historically memorable, etc." but what makes a classic? That's the rub. How do we know what will be useful and worthy of keeping for the future?
    As an instructional technologist I am often asked what's the best tool for doing certain things which often leads to "why do we have to embrace so many different tools? Why isn't there something that can do everything we need it to do?" We are in a time where there are many different software options to perform different primary functions. As my coworker, Cathy Smith said, "there is always a degree of overlap which requires an understanding of strength and weaknesses of each product. How a teacher chooses to incorporate the tools into their instructional practice is of course a matter for each of us as professional educators to determine and would be impacted by our specific discipline." At FETC this year Tom Murray said "the technology our students are using today will be the worst technology they will ever use." Meaning that capabilities will become faster, more intuitive, more useful. I think the same can be said of the tools we use that work on a technology platform. 
    So the bottom line is, in a technology world that is exponentially changing faster than it ever has before, how do I know what will be a classic? Which companies and platforms will adapt to best meet needs? Which platforms will be replaced due to better companies coming on board? What needs that we currently have in education will actually become obsolete?And with these questions, is it possible for me to say "this is the best platform for our school's future?" and be able to feel confident that I mean that for 5 years or even 10 years? I submit I definitely can't say 10 years and that is so different to what the culture of education has been up until this point. What does the role of contemporary tools have on an educational culture that embraces classical? How do we embrace change and need for change without being able to make promises that you might have to rewrite and re-enter your lessons, ideas and curriculum in mass amounts a few years out. Is that a terrible expectation? 
    As I dig, ask questions, pilot, and evaluate technology platforms in a typical debits/credits t-account in my head, I struggle with being part of decisions that might fall flat. Being labeled as someone that made a bad suggestion for the masses based on current information that quickly becomes outdated concerns me. What if I suggest a choice that makes us a Blockbuster in a Netflix world? I find myself worrying about how to best support the scope and sequence of curriculum at our school with instructional technology. I worry about remaining relevant in a quickly changing environment. I know what it feels like to try to make something "fit" that just doesn't fit. I see the value of the tried and true. While I love to have opportunities to trial cutting edge technology, I know the risks it brings to the table. I pray that I can be balanced in my desires and that I will be useful to my school because I strive to stay well informed. What educational technology names will be considered "classics" one day? I do not know. And dare I say, I wonder if it is going to matter?