Yesterday I was faced with a grim journey into central London. Now, we Brits like nothing better than to complain about the weather, but this time our moaning was justified. The dreadful heat made it difficult not only for us to work, but also the signals on a part of the rail service into London. The part that I use. Rather than face delays of up to 40 minutes (nearly 50% of the normal journey time), I “asked” Transport for London to find an alternative route for me, one which didn’t involve going by rail.
I'm glad I did.
The new route was delightful. Instead of being squashed standing up for most of the journey, I had a seat on the bus and then on the tube. Instead of being cooped up with lots of tired-looking adults, I shared part of my journey with schoolchildren. I daresay I wouldn’t like that much if I were a bus driver having to put up with them every day, but I found their exuberance quite uplifting. They were also quieter than a lot of commuters, because instead of bellowing into their cell phones they were listening to their mp3 players and texting people. More of the trip was spent in daylight as well. Because of these differences, I actually took notice of the journey instead of concerning myself with the report I’d taken with me to read.
And here’s an unexpected bonus: the journey took 15 minutes less time than it usually does, despite TFL’s assuring me that using rail was the fastest route.
So what has all this to do with educational technology? Well, nothing in itself, except that it made me think. We often get into a particular way of doing things, not least because we’re assured that that is the best way. Once you start doing certain things in certain ways, it becomes easy to forget that there might be a completely different approach.
So what if you were to do something totally different, outlandish even? What unexpected benefits might come out of it? What if…
- You decreed that next Friday everyone had to use a visualiser in a meaningful way at least once in each lesson?
- You decreed that nobody in your team should use the interactive whiteboard one day next week?
- You stipulated that the pupils in each ICT class had to be responsible for one lesson each term?
- You abandoned the scheme of work for one lesson and instead asked the pupils to come up with a way of using technology to make supermarket shopping more pleasant?
- Taught ICT in a room with no technology in it at all, for one lesson a week for a month?
- You asked your pupils to extend this list, weeded out the dangerous or really impossible suggestions, and then selected one to do at random?
- Used this list as a starting point for your next team meeting?
No doubt there would be many unworkable and ludicrous ideas – but there might, just might, be a fantastic idea that reinvigorates everyone, staff and pupils alike, and leads to your doing things in a completely different, and actually better, way.
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