My position on technology, especially mobile phones in schools has not changed in a decade. In fact, as technologies become increasingly sophisticated, the worst school systems can do is flee from the overwhelming impact of the digital/knowledge age. I firmly believe that technology isn’t the biggest challenge in schools today.
We operate in an environment where the system still dominates; information is still contained and controlled, and the expert (teacher) largely controls what is learnt and when. An industrial culture. Yet, as Seth Godin writes, technology shows up and the culture inevitably changes. As he reflects, ‘culture enables new industries and movements, which further change the culture.’
Technology has shown up in schools but there has been little cultural or structural change that aligns with the transition to machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics. To be fair, the cultural shift required by all including schools isn’t easy as highlighted in the Harvard Business Review article ‘Building the AI-Powered Organisation‘. The authors identify three key shifts needed for organisations to embrace the power of AI. The first is a move away from silos to cross-collaboration among teams. The second is data-driven decision making at the front line. The third is towards a more agile, experimental and adaptable culture. All of which requires a lot of ground-work and an understanding by all that AI is an enabler to the work.
The fact we continue having debates and discussions over the role of technology in schools is misdirected. Schools and systems must be focussed on the possibilities and opportunities of technology-driven insights that enable the best possible outcomes for learners. Transforming schooling comes as a result of transforming the culture. And as Seth Godin observed, technology has opened a lot of doors – here’s our chance to make things better.