What is disruption?
This week my post is co-authored by Eileen Heller. Eileen is an Instructional Technology Trainer here at Omaha Public Schools. She oversees our Compass Program, a unique relationship with Microsoft that builds solutions for education across the world through Omaha Public Schools. When we look at new technology solutions that engage the classroom, Eileen looks for the ways it integrates and aligns with our Best Instructional Practice Handbook. You can access her blog below.
This week's blog post, Eileen and I are focusing on digital disruption. Being born in 1976, I got the opportunity in life to see the effects of technology through many mediums such as social media through the introduction of the Internet change society. For as long as there has been technology, there have been those who have breathed a sigh of relief that digital disruption wasn't going to happen to them. For me, one area that I see is how I bank. I bank at Bank of America which we have had for a very long time yet there are no Bank of America locations in Nebraska, which I do find amusing since they are named Bank of America.
Technology is most powerful when it produces efficiencies in our lives. This week my kids experienced this example. Our dishwasher broke, and it took a little over a week to get it repaired because we were dealing with warranty issues. My kids had to participate in the manual wash process. It is interesting to listen to kids who don't know what a rotary phone is, or a typewriter, commercial breaks, etc. My kids have always had access to the dishwasher and never had to manually wash dishes. I had them give an account below of that experience.
My experience with disruption...
I remember when I bought my first iPod. It was 2002, and I was joyed to have 10 Gb of music in my hand. It was crazy talk. I could rip my CDs and have access to them with customized playlists. I think it was also the first time I got used to using gestures to select items on a mobile device. Best $299 I could have spent at the time. The iTunes Store wasn't introduced until 2003 which was also a game changer. Buying songs immediately without heading to Best Buy or any other music store produced a convenience I desired. Enough about the past, what industries are on track to get disrupted by technology in the near future?
What industries are about to get disrupted?
Let's begin with this video. Love how Common presents what could be.
Just as the iPod transformed our lives with music, artificial intelligence is about to do so with information. Think about this, how many times do you hear the words "Siri," "Alexa," or "Hey Google" heard? Artificial Intelligence will transform many of our industries. Here are two articles outlining two examples of that transformation, one for lawyers, and one in our education industry. Getting legal advice is expensive. Thanks to artificial intelligence, though, that might not be the case for long. As AI becomes more and more capable of processing and understanding complex language, lawyers' jobs are becoming more efficient. And in education, as schools transition away from paper, textbooks, and projectors, there's a growing opportunity for startups to create new tools geared toward educators.
Disruption in Education
Disruption can, by definition, be viewed as negative, conjuring ideas of interruption, disturbance, annoyance – think of the disruptive student in class ruining it for everyone, which might have been me in school. In light of the digital revolution, disruption proclaims a change that may seem particularly unwelcome to those forced to change their traditional ways of doing things. But it doesn’t emerge from anywhere. It is important to note that disruption is driven by a convergence of forces. Those forces can be the changing demands of consumers, or by competition between industries.
So how do we prepare students for this ever-changing landscape? This is where you hear those 4Cs (collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication). Below are two articles that come to mind when thinking about how to prepare students for an unknown future.
In the diagram below, my three girls are actually represented in three of these levels, and our lives were directly impacted by them as the creation of Google was happening. It's crazy to see how many disrupted solutions have occurred in just the last 20 years! Unlike us, our kids have been exposed to these very early in life and society has changed because of them. These are important to take in as an educator since our learning environments and learning styles have changed.
Digital Disruption in the Classroom- Eileen's Perspective
When I look at the synonyms of "disruption," they tend to be negative as Rob pointed out earlier. This has two possible outcomes in a classroom when technology disrupts instruction and learning. It can be ineffective or powerfully transformative. Disruption in regards to the addition of devices in the school was recently a hot debate on Twitter with the below post from @E_Sheninger that garnered 92 replies and counting. Check out the Digital Distraction debate in full.
When you look at the heart of the issue it is an example of "digital disruption". Devices in the hands of students could "hamper, impede, interfere" with learning. They can also empower students, transform learning, and allow accessibility by removing barriers that impeded learning in the past. I work with teachers in classrooms daily in my role as an instructional technology trainer. I see the effects of devices and it comes with a variety of positives and negatives.
Recently I visited, Nick Wennstedt's, @MrWennstedt, AP History class at Bryan High School in our district. Walking into that room there is an immediate and noticeable difference between that classroom and the one I sat in twenty-five years ago in my high school. When I reflect on this, my classroom in high school did not look or feel different than what my parents explained from their generation. Students are different than when I was in high school, and I'm sure our generation was different than our parents. It isn't a "this is good, or this is bad thing" it is a reality. What students need for learning is different and what society needs coming from our students' education is different.
Nick's classroom had gone through some changes both in the physical environment with flexible seating opportunities, and the addition of laptops for each student. August 2017, Nick's students were greeted with the newly renovated learning space, but they did not have devices. November 2017, the students in Nick's students went 1:1 with the addition of devices to the AP program. I asked him to share how the transition to devices had been a "disruption" in his classroom in regards to instruction and learning both positively and negatively.
"My experiences this year with the influx of technology into my classroom has created disruption in a few ways. The first disruption to my teaching is from the introduction of a new, complex tools into the classroom. Pens, pencils and notebooks do not have to update or charge or connect to a network, whereas our new laptops feature all of those. Class bell work/anticipatory sets now also feature IT help with me assisting those students experiencing problems, working through trouble shooting with them.
Traditional work flow for my students has also been disrupted. Up until this school year, on-line resources such as Class Notebook have mostly been used as a backup source, “missed class? Check the class notebook for the notes, etc…”, whereas now the Class Notebook and Teams are their primary source of notes, assignments, homework and resources. For some of my students, this disruption has been a net benefit as the old way of distributing handouts and packets meant more paper to lose track of, but now everything is organized in one place. For other students, this disruption has caused an increase in forgetting about assignments or materials because they do have them as physical reminders.
The other disruption that can occur when the technology isn’t working is that it can disrupt a train of thought. My Advanced Placement students become frustrated when the technology isn’t working and it can deter them from continuing to work hard or derail their critical thinking.
Overall, the disruptions from technology are outweighed by the benefits. I am eager to see test results and overall achievement compared to last year without the technology."- Nick Wennstedt
Classrooms going 1:1 is definitely not a new concept. It has been happening for almost a decade. However, if it hasn't happened to you as an educator, you haven't felt the immediate disruption. When it does take place a teacher needs to wrestle through the organization, troubleshooting, classroom management, digital citizenship, changes in instruction, etc. It reminds me a lot of what I experienced when I was preparing for a new baby. I could get all the advice, clothes, diapers, furniture, that was needed, but nothing prepared me for the day in and day out disruption of our lives that came with it. With time, more planning, trial and error, seeking out more advice from other parents, it all became easier. This is how it needs to be looked at in a classroom. It should be expected that a digital disruption could make you feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed as it is change that bleeds into almost every area of the classroom. It takes planning, adjusting, and seeking out how others have done it and found success in the past. I guarantee to you not one teacher that had a digital disruption immediately had all positive effects with no negatives. Below is a list of strategies I have seen teachers employ that makes the transition go smoother:
Disruption of industries, our time, and our future are ever changing because of technology. Next week I will team with Amy Vester to highlight another technology tool that will transform our classrooms with language challenges and opportunities. We will highlight Microsoft Translator and show real classroom examples of its impact.
These posts are personal. They are not reflective of the Omaha Public Schools District.