What’s Out Your Window? What’s YOUR View?
Is there a split in the field?
I have been thinking a lot lately about the question “What do educators want to see in apps for use in education?”. I have thought about what I want, I have asked others via Twitter and also in person what they want. I have read online reviews, had conversations, discussions, been to EdCamps, and yet I still wonder…
As educators we are on a road which is headed in a direction we probably agree on – we all want our students to learn and grow and to be their best selves. We know our road is not straight and it sometimes meanders, twists, turns, and sometimes seems to disappear into a bog or some fog. Other times our road is deeply rutted with few places to pull over and check the map to see if we are still headed in the right direction and sometimes the road stretches out before us showing us the clear direction we are headed.
When I was a little girl and my family went on numerous road trips in the family station wagon. My brother and I would sit in the back seat of the car, each gazing out our own window, watching the world fly by. We each made it to the destination, but each of us had a different view and experience. It was virtually impossible for me to see what was out my window AND what was out my brother’s window as we sped down the highway at 65 mph. When we would talk about the day sitting in our tent each night we would argue over what we saw and what our reality was for the day. We could ONLY see it the way we saw it, if I saw a deer on the side of the road I expected that he would have seen the same thing. If he SAID he saw a moose on the side of the road and I had not seen one, I would claim he was making things up. Our realities were different even though we were in the same car, on the same road at the same time. We drove our parents crazy!
In education today it seems as if we are all in cars heading down a highway toward some educational goals or destination and yet we have very different views. The “birth” of mobile devices (tablets and smart phones) has offered us a different car to look out of as we drive toward education goals and destinations.
As I asked educators what they want in apps for education, it became clear that there were at least two windows in this car… two views of how apps can be useful to us as we race down this road of education. One view is that apps need to provide tools and resources which react to students’ accomplishments and/or mistakes and adjust to the students. These apps would track student actions and responses and record and share data about the students to the teachers, and maybe also the parents and the students themselves. Apps such as these would customize the learning for the users while providing information and guidance to them and their teachers. These apps would be deliverers of information and content. Related to these apps could be apps for educators to use to manage the classroom and the learning. These apps would provide record keeping, point structures and the like. This “window view” is structured, logical, content-rich, and highly “data driven”.
Out the window on the opposite side of the car is a very different view. In this view apps for education need to be creative and productive in nature. They would allow for exploration and discovery as well as progression and learning. These apps are open-ended and often are content-free or content-neutral tools. These apps provide a platform, tool, media or venue for creation of materials, refinement of ideas or products or audiences for these products. The best of these apps allow for collaboration on ideas, work, and products as well as the sharing of these projects and products.
We could argue late into the night about what is “the” reality, but each of us has our own window, our own view of the world and our own sense of reality.
So who is driving this car? If we reach a fork in the road, which way will we turn? Will the views out the windows influence which way we will turn?
If app developers are driving the car, we need to be clear as to our views and realities. If the one who is loudest about the views out their window is the one who most determines the direction the car turns, who will yell the loudest? What is your view? What will you tell the driver?
I look forward to your ideas and thoughts from your window seat.