Bump

Last week, the company’s educational overseers organized the Google Faculty Institute, to which they invited the faculty from California State University (CSU) schools of education. The mission: to show those who teach teachers the most effective, useful, and helpful digital tools.

Though there were “bumps in the road,” namely legitimate obstacles that faculty would face in taking these ideas back to school to implement, Johnson said she’s confident they’ll follow through.

I chuckled. The bumps in the road are, in fact, the main story, not the side plot.

1. Stanford's Larry Cuban wrote a book about this. It's called Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom.

Cuban also has a great blog. A year ago he wrote:

In her editorial, Harris tries to explain “why many–if not most–large-scale technology integration efforts are perceived to have failed.” Think Seymour Papert’s LOGO in the 1980s, Apple Classroom of Tomorrow in the 1990s, and schools that abandon 1:1 laptops in the past few years. She offers two reasons: technocentrism and pedagogical dogmatism.

This is an example of the latter. The Google folks do not start with the problems of actual schoolteachers. They start with tools. The question is how to get teachers to use those tools.

2. I learned this the hard way. The original acronym for MATCH was Media And Technology Charter High School. The charter I began writing in 1997 as a Harvard grad student described that in addition to the traditional subjects and methods, we'd supplement with kids making "media projects"...photo essays, websites, radio and video documentaries.

We had a plan. Lots of plans. Had studied failures of these efforts in other schools. Had ideas on how to solve.

Turns out, we were outgunned and outmanned. We'd come up with a few answers to the types of challenges that Cuban described real teachers facing in using technology well. But we had not come up with enough answers. Turned out (in our case), if you didn't solve all of challenges, and gave teachers a legitimate chance to succeed, then kids would learn little. Think dike. You can't stop up 3 leaks well and leave another 4 unchecked.

Luckily, we had Charlie to create the "real MATCH" in the first few years....a school built on relationships with parents and kids.

And by 2004, we made the big switch -- a massive redistribution of our resources towards tutoring and away from student-created media projects.

3. These days, I meet many folks working on integrating technology into the classroom. My main advice is: do not conceive of the 80 yard journey (I'm in NFL mode) as being 70 yards building a tool, 10 yards figuring out the bumps in the road. It's the other way around.