What Does Awesome Look Like?

el-may15In “How to Transform Teaching with Tablets” (Educational Leadership, May 2015), Tom Daccord and Justin Reich explain that to make the most of an investment in tablet computers, schools need to articulate a clear vision for how the new technology will improve student learning. Here, the authors suggest that educators should pause to ponder some crucial questions.

By Justin Reich

It’s May, and you’re deep in the weeds of your new technology initiative this year. You’re dealing with the 8 percent of screens that are cracked, you’re getting machines imaged in time for the PARCC or Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test, you’re planning the final technology professional development day, you’re submitting your budget for next year, and you’re figuring out what to do about the teacher who requisitioned a new projector and is hiding it in his closet. Your attention is constantly drawn to logistics and away from learning.

Now is the perfect time to pause.

What are your brightest hopes for your new technology initiative? At the end of the year, at the end of four years, at the end of 12 years, how do you want student learning experiences to differ because they have new devices and new opportunities? Put another way, what does awesome look like? If your new initiative were to succeed beyond your wildest expectations, how would your students be different as scholars, citizens, and people?

There are no logistical problems worth solving, no fires worth putting out, and no systems worth running without thoughtful answers to questions like these—questions that are collaboratively owned and shared by a learning community.