Backlash

In “An Unfortunate Reality,” NCDPI southeast technology consultant Acacia Dixon cites an article about current trends in school technology funding:

As school technology infrastructures have become larger and more complex, the percentage of their technology budgets that schools spend on tech support has doubled in the last four years, according to a new report.

School leaders reported that items such as professional development and instructional applications are among the first tech-related expenses they cut when budgets are tight.

While we can’t do 21C without the technology, we have to be careful here about priorities and what will get us to the pinnacle of the 21C mountain. In The Heavy Lifting, I backlash that our biggest challenge is not in procuring and deploying technology assets. Rather, it is in how we use them to impact teaching and learning for 100% or our students and teachers.

The September-October 2007 issue of The Futurist has an article that should resonate with education professionals caught in the current climate of high-stakes testing and data-driven decision-making. The article is entitled “Not with a Bang: Civilization’s Accelerating Challenge.”

It backlashes our information culture. And it is worth reading as a counter-balance before we rush headstrong into the data-driven frenzy.

There is a growing awareness of the negative aspects of having too much information and of having systems to gather it that are too elaborate and too prone to error and breakdown. Being too dependent on information is seen as addictive.

Businesses and all other organizations continue to devote resources and money to building ever more complex information-gathering systems. The difficulties created by the enormous quantities of information generated, may, at least in some cases, no longer be outweighed by the benefits.

But when you have invested millions in an IT system, you use it whether or not it is the appropriate tool.

The point is we are in a people business and we can’t be reduced to an over-reliance on data as we make decisions. The argument is this: instinctive judgments, or judgments based on “thin slices of information,” are better than judgments based on gathering and over-analysis of more information.

Obviously, we must gather and interpret data to guide our broad progress. The problem with data is that it can get as granular as we want it to be. And it is fast becoming an end-all. What then becomes of human instinct, judgment, gut, intuition, experience, wisdom, sense? These human qualities risk becoming ever more valuable and rare in a culture that has an over-dependence on data.

That’s a little TMI for such a human enterprise as K-12 education.

Stay tuned for Part II, which swings towards teamwork . . .

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