“It’s not about the technology.”
This is the popular refrain that we hear constantly in the blogosphere and at conferences devoted to technology and education. And I agree: the purchase/use/integration of technology, in and of itself, does not imply learning any more than the purchase of books implies reading or the purchase of pencils and paper implies writing.
However, I like you, I am not sure about OneNote in terms of a learning tool. Sure, it makes some things easier. But transformative? Notsomuch.
Part of the problem, as we discussed it, is that these tools are not designed for education: they are really productivity tools for the business world whose purposes have been re-articulated to fit into an educational setting. I think this is what the EduPunk meme was all about: a revolt to the use of office-tools in the educational environment. The irony is that the education we are trying to provide using these tools is to enable students to work in fields that extend beyond the typical office!
Unless a tool/system is designed with educational pedagogy in mind it will almost undoubtedly fail to be transformative. All educational pedagogy interested in authentic learning must include, at a minimum, the following facets:
- Collaboration, because societies do not function in isolation.
- Connection, because this is now an immutable fact of life.
- Construction, because the real world requires you to make your own conclusions.
- Reflection, because learning doesn’t happen during the test; it happens before and after.
As I think about what tools we are using in my school in this manner, it’s clear to see that few if any of can have a transformative effect on education and student learning. It’s also clear why “It’s not about the technology”: because the technology is not about education!
The transformation of education is just itching to happen. But it is being delayed by the nonexistence of systems and learning environments – not tools – that will allow students and teachers to truly harness the technological power that we possess. These systems will not come from Microsoft or Apple or any other developer who is focused on the workplace. These systems must come from educators who understand that improving efficiency does not imply improving student learning.