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Carrot or Stick? How to reach tipping point with a new technology in an institution.

We are overwhelmed by new educational tools, but how do these become meanigful to our students?...

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Jonathan Turner
19 April 2010

We are overwhelmed by new educational tools, but how do these become meaningful to our students? Reaching a tipping point when a technology becomes ubiquitous amongst students seems almost impossible, unless it's a tool as pervasive as google or email. So how do we get new tools out there? Should we push our Ss to use tools or else? Or should we just put stuff out there and see what sticks? Who has a success story here? And who feels that we are slowly sinking under the weight of all these new options?

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Bob and Sue reaching Tipping.Point

Bob and Sue reaching Tipping.Point

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AJ Cann
2:26pm 19 April 2010 (Edited 2:27pm 19 April 2010)

"Reaching a tipping point when a technology becomes ubiquitous amongst students seems almost impossible". You forgot to add Facebook. So the answer is, utilize the stickyness of Facebook. See:

Emma Johnstone
11:10pm 19 April 2010

So long as the tool is useful most people probably need a 'push' to use it to begin with, building its popularity.  If enough people like it then they'll possibly continue to use and recommend it.  I enjoy the fact that H800 exposes me to many technologies - it wouldn't even have occurred to me to look for many of them otherwise.  I'm definitely out of my comfort zone sometimes and likely wouldn't bother if I wasn't pushed or motivated by a specific aim.  

Jonathan Turner
7:33am 20 April 2010

How many of the tools that we have been exposed to on H800 do you think you will use as part of your routine?

Emma Johnstone
2:41pm 20 April 2010 (Edited 2:43pm 20 April 2010)

Good question!  I'm hoping to get into a different job in the future that would broaden my likelihood of using more of the tools as currently I have limited need.  I imagine that a handful of the websites I've been exposed to I will regularly use regardless.  If I get into more of a teaching or research capacity I will use a few more regularly and dip in and out of several more.  

What do others think?  Has anyone been using new tools at work regularly since starting H800?

Regarding being 'pushed' to use technology here's what's happening in my coaching life at the moment: the British competition my gymnasts are to attend this weekend has several clubs who have booked flights and do not know if they will make it or not.  If most can travel, those who can't have been asked to consider filming routines under competitive conditions and forwarding them for judging.  Please understand that this is the abridged version of events!  

joan heiman
9:16am 23 April 2010

I just read the following from author, teacher, writer Parker Palmer and it expresses my feelings better than I can:

"We are obsessed with manipulating externals because we believe that they will give us some power over reality and win us some freedom from its constraints.  Mesmerized by a technology that seems to have done just that, we dismiss the inward worlds.  We turn every question we face into an objective problem to be solved -- and we believe that for every objective problem there is some sort of technical fix.  That is why we train doctors to repair the body but not to honor the spirit; clergy to be CEOs but not spiritual guides; teachers to master techniques [and technology] but not to engage their students' souls."

I don't think that any of the technology we use is touching the hearts or souls of students. And in this most essential light -- it is nothing more than a distraction from the one thing needed in teaching & learning: heartfelt relationship.

Emma Johnstone
10:08pm 1 May 2010

Fair point, Joan.  I do think that it works both ways - anything can be used or abused.  Technology, in my opinion, also has the potential to touch hearts and souls, and inspire and instigate.  A greater range of mediums doesn't mean that they should be used over and above traditional or other means but that the person producing the output has more options.  The most technologically advanced may not be in any way appropriate and a competent teacher should recognise this.  A caring teacher would also look for various way to enhance inclusion of any student resistant to any means of communication.  

7:58pm 24 May 2010

With a large user base, so long as the technology is free for people to use - and there's rival options available to choose between i.e. facebook, myspace... - then a user base will migrate to the most user friendly or most content-efficient version.  There's less of a need to research and test ideas when competition between similar technologies will highlight clear winners.  Put new technology out there and the public will chose for you whether it's a success or not.

12:50pm 25 May 2010

Frequently, technology is not maintained and so is present but unable to be used.  Maintaining it and training potential users would increase the use of technology in institutions.  

Chris Kirkland
10:40am 22 July 2010

One course I teach on uses Facebook for students to contact each other through the course. Adult learners often have pressures keeping them from making contacts within their courses and FaceBook helps to make up for that. This has two useful spin-offs: being able to keep in touch with progress after leaving the college and also overcoming an administrative problem that students are taken off the college network at the end of the teaching but before all the problems with portfolios are dealt with and results announced. No personal information goes on there but students are kept in touch with what is going on so they can contact lecturers at appropriate times.

Neil Smith
9:02pm 3 April 2011

There is a big problem with pushing tools - how do you pick the right one?  How much money and time is wasting by guessing wrong?  How many betamax video recorders are sat gathering dust in colleges and training departments?  This site may be a point in question.  I see a lot of H800 postings dated April last year, but I assume the debates ended as soon as the course ended.  The students on that course are probably still debating on Facebook or LinkedIn groups, but they don't seem to be here.  So maybe we need to look for technologies that have already passed the tipping point - if 90% of the students on a course use Facebook every day, then put the debates on a Facebook page.  It may not be as well suited to academic debate as this site, but if it's where the audience is, that's where you need to be!

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