New technologies initiatives: questions to ask (Chris Lehmann)

Image: ‘Army Guard Father, Son Fly Together‘ on Flickr here

Moving forward with new technologies in education is a main focus of all schools now. Or it should be. As with everything, leaping in blindly is not the best way to go. It’s always prudent to keep thinking and then think some more throughout this process to avoid disasters which will result in the opposite of what you intended – people being put off and the absence of positive results.

I came across a few practical questions suggested by Chris Lehmann. I think these are very helpful and would like to hear from you on this topic. These questions form the third point (Foresight) in Chris’ Top 3 leadership skills post.

The most important question you can ask of new technology initiatives is “What is the worst consequence of your best idea?” The answer shouldn’t keep you from moving forward, but it should allow you to plan for the problems that inevitably arise. There are some other important questions that should help you plan:
■ What is the end goal and how does this use of technology move us closer to it?
■ Is this an additive change or a transformative change? (In other words, does this allow us to do things we’ve always done slightly differently, or does this fundamentally change the way we have done something?)
■ Is this sustainable? (Is this a currently free tool that may not stay free? Do we own what we create? Does this have a fee?)

In the end, a smart, thoughtful approach to technological innovation will help students become ready for the world they will inherit.

So, what do you think? I think it’s important to consistently evaluate our initiatives so that we’re clear about what is and isn’t working, and so that we have prepared flexible options when things inevitably veer off the straight path, or to check that we our use of technology is firmly fixed to educational objectives.

Chris Lehmann is the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. He will be the keynote speaker at Tech Forum Texas, November 5, 2010.

Chris will be one of the speakers on the panel in a two-hour live and interactive look at “Elevating the Education Reform Dialog” coming up this Tuesday morning at 8 am (for Melbourne people). Read about this in Steve Hargadon’s post. I hope to be able to tune in to this very important discussion. Yes, it’s about education in the US but I think it’s repercussions will affect us too.

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