The future of education depends on quality teaching, localized decision-making and the ability to make rapid changes to address the needs of students. Technology is an important part of this change as it increases connectivity in learning, collaborating and leading students preparing all participants to accept and respond to change more rapidly.
Currently we have an hierarchical system, a focus on what quality teaching looks like without consistent modeling or support and an inability to make locally informed improvements to address the changing needs of the student population. We are not maximizing the tools of technology to assist with improvements and waiting for the cultures to catch up isn’t working. In order to plan for the future, we must be prepared to meet unexpected challenges, changes policies that become barriers to progress and support quality teaching by demonstrating it consistently on all levels. Information technology can be the fulcrum for change in the new paradigm.
To change institutionalized perceptions requires a paradigm shift; the shift represents a change in leadership from student-to-teacher-to-administrator, taking responsibility for thinking, learning and asking the impassioned questions. At this point students, teachers and administrators don’t even know what questions need to be asked to drive the change. They are engaged in self-preservation instead of truly creative, critical thinking. They are waiting to be awakened to a vision they can embrace, a vision in which they are connected not by the awkward existing structure of an old fashioned erector set, but by something sleek, new and responsive.
What does a shift of this nature look like? It’s a shift from land to sea. It’s a shift from the skeletal,mammal to the arthropod. Surprised? You should be because a paradigm shift never looks obvious, it looks counter intuitive at first. Consider this metaphor for distributed school leadership as an octopus. Three hearts, eight arms, no skeleton, the ability to change color and drop limbs when under attack. It is true they have a relatively short life span, but this means they are reinvented quickly time and time again, well suited to a fluid environment.
One person cannot begin to answer and should not presume to create a plan that embodies many voices acting like the impulses in this unique new paradigm but I can suggest some ways technology should be implemented in this new sink or swim underwater world.
My passion for education stems from a desire to help students rediscover their curiosity, by providing them with ways to take charge of their own destinies. This can be accomplished using technology. Informational technology requires critical thinking and problem solving or it becomes no more than an echo-chamber for stale ideas. Teachers are needed to foster critical thinking, provide opportunities for exploration and to challenge students just enough to propel them into a successful future. Technology provides the fluidity needed to meet the challenges for the new paradigm in education for the future.