DAILY INSIGHT: Six laws of tech adoption, Law #2

By Gary Shattuck, CIO Advisor

In my last blog, I began explaining the first of what I call the Six Laws of Technology Adoption in Education. This first law was the Law of Scarcity. Today’s blog is about the second of these six laws: The Law of Change. In 1970, Alvin Toffler in Future Shock predicted that in the 21st century accelerating change would become endemic. This eerily prophetic prediction is causing and will continue to cause major disruptions in education beyond any of our imaginations. The best we can hope for is to learn to quickly adapt to our fast-changing societal and educational issues.

For example, in 2001, Marc Prenskydescribed what he saw as a different type of student emerging in our society: the digital native. As Prensky articulated, these new type of students were born into the digital age and know nothing else but a digital world. In fact, Jane Healy described in Endangered Minds that these digital natives’ brains have been structurally changed by this digital technology. As a result, 90% of today’s students are visual learners. This is an example of the accelerating change that is disrupting education.

Coupled with the changing students, societal changes brought about by Web 2.0 technologies are also creating disruptive forces in education. In 2003, neither Facebook nor YouTube existed; and yet, now we find it hard to remember a world in which these two iconic Internet companies did not exist. Why did these two companies become the phenomena they are? The answer is easy to discern but hard to comprehend the implications. Facebook and YouTube easily allow users to contribute their “voice” to the global conversation. In other words, these companies allow their users to feel connected and valued by an authentic audience. These two companies add a sense of meaning to hundreds of millions of lives. Do our students deserve any less?

This last question is the disruptive challenge we in education, but, more specifically, we in Ed Tech, are now facing. How do we create learning environments that allow our students to become not a passive learner but a participating learner (Henry Jenkins et al.). Our culture has become a participatory one in which everyone wants, expects, to be a participant; but, do we in education allow our students to become true participants in their own learning? Do we encourage inquisitiveness, curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving? Do we give students’ agency to assume ownership over their own learning? This is the Law of Change; if we do not adapt to these cultural and societal changes we will be overrun by the disruptive forces that await us.

Gary Shattuck is the director of technology and media services at Newton County Schools in Covington, Georgia. Follow him on Twitter as @EdTechLeader