We are living in a world of potential that grows exponentially. Technological and communication advances are bringing to life concepts that were science fiction only twenty, ten, or five years ago. Innovative designers and educators are working with businesses to provide the best tools for instruction. Schools and administrators are rethinking their practices and policies for promoting the greatest student achievement as they invite local and global communities to enrich students’ lives. From its foundations, the cinder block school building is being redesigned and repurposed to meet the needs of our collective future as we see it through a digital lens darkly.
Like hopeful prospectors who see an open field and dream of gold beneath the surface, we look at the newest device and imagine its utility in the classroom. The flexibility of technology to meet individual needs through customization means that the arbiters of instructional application are the individual users themselves. Put it simply, many educators are told to let students use tools in their own creative ways to access and apply information. And they do, often with unimagined, glorious results. And they don’t, often with aimless, confused classrooms. The challenge we face together is how to transfer our potential into the best possible solution. Since our options seem limitless, this potential, which is a ball of bright energy, becomes a weak ray of light that spreads out–too diffuse, too broad to have useful impact.
Or worse still, we face so much information, and so many choices, we don’t commit to a single idea. We fear making a misstep, so we do not act at all. We wait for the best application of technology, and so we never apply anything. We take cursory glances at the wealth of information available, only to discover later that nothing has penetrated. We stuff bookmark folders with good ideas but rarely revisit them, and staff development meetings are brainstorming sessions with more sturm und drang than accomplishment.
How, then, shall we act on our ability to offer penetrating illumination?
We must not freeze in fear, and we must not impulsively adopt every shiny new toy only because it is shiny and new. Rather, we must focus our energy by engaging in dialogues that work to develop methods of direct application in the classroom followed by feasible action plans that acknowledge the real problems facing education. Economic, social, political, and administrative challenges can put teachers into a vise that squeezes them and constricts their growth.
The first step is to remove the vise, and many schools are doing just that: freeing teachers to teach. The next step is to foster conversation among colleagues because even after the vise is off, the mind remembers the past constraint and may not even realize that it has been removed. In this scenario, we must listen to the problems and worries of the teacher and validate those feelings not by sweeping worries aside but by illustrating how each problem is considered and solved step-by-step. In addition, the conversations must amplify the idea and not simply distribute a vague solution that is very adaptable but lacks a definitive point. Learning communities online and in person often provide more breadth than depth: many ideas are shared and echoed but few are truly developed on a regular basis. Critical feedback will focus conversations and will transform a group’s combined abilities into one action.
The purpose of KineticEd is to offer focus and conversation. The focus will be on how certain devices and technologies are used in the classroom. The conversation will be candid and open, so our ideas can bounce back and forth, gaining power before turning into action. KineticEd works to turn our potential into achievement.
Now, join me as we explore education in action using the words from F.T. Marinetti in “The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism”:
“We must shake at the gates of life, test the bolts and hinges. Let’s go! Look there, on the earth, the very first dawn! There’s nothing to match the splendor of the sun’s red sword, slashing for the first time through our millennial gloom!
Lift up your heads!”