Friday, July 3, 2009

Continuous Path of Partial Attention

Overwhelming yes but the recent ISTE conference in DC left me in a technology sea - likely similar to what students swim in: so many things, so many attention grabbers. Just how do you decide where to go and what to do when the whole world is your road?

I left with a bag of tricks and a few signposts.
The larger signs pointed to
  • Constructive obstacles
  • The driving need to create assignments that reflect dissonance.

I found Malcolm Gladwell's keynote address particularly intriguing as his new book Outliers seems to advocate for the renewal of the Protestant work ethic with a new twist - respect the difficulty as a major component of a compensation theory to success. I couldn't figure out how this tied into a conference on technology and education until he hit that key component: FEEDBACK. Here was the key component; a WEB 2.0 component, and the discussion returns to the real merit of brick and mortar schools - a place of face to face dialogue. This is the element that bothers me with the flash and bells of technology use in the classroom. Too often it overlays and erases the need to actually talk to people, watch their faces, know their interests, argue and resolve differences, and pay attention to that vital right brain element of which Daniel Pink so convincingly speaks.
Here is the true challenge of technology and education: how do we combine these elements effectively?


  1. Molly, I too struggle with using the newest technology just because it's there and available. Trying to keep my head above water in that "sea of technology," I've developed this rule of thumb: only use technology that truly advances student learning. If it's not tech in the hands of the students and it's increasing student learning, then it's tech for tech sake. I really like your second idea about dissonance. Tell me more of your thoughts about that. So, how highly do you recommend going to the ISTE Conference?

  2. On a scale of 1-10 I'd give it a 8 on learning "how to use" technology...
    I'd give it a 6 on value in the classroom
    Maybe I was too jaded but all the bells and whistles seemed distracting from how to reach deeper to make kids stretch - except for Malcom Gladwell's keynote. Now he spoke to me with his reference to compensation theories and the value of the struggle and how a learning curve isn't necessarily a curve but could be an awfully convoluted path.