Here Be Dragons

November 15, 2006 on 9:22 am | In education, nycist, nysais, technology, web 2.0 | 1 Comment

Reflecting on last week’s NYSAIS EdTech conference, I’m reminded of the commonly held belief that early mapmakers marked the edge of the known world with the words “Here Be Dragons.” While this belief seems to be something of a folk myth, it provides an apt metaphor to describe the current landscape in the educational technology field.

With rapid technological advances, teachers and students face a brave new world out there beyond the known boundaries. Web 2.0 tools have the capacity to open up new territories in teaching and learning, but their promise also carries with it a fear of the dangers that lurk at the frontiers. Ed Tech visionaries extol the virtues of open, collaborative, organic learning environments, while at the same time parents, teachers, and administrators wrestle with the potential negative consequences in our students’ and children’s lives of venturing alone into these uncharted lands. To make matters worse, the children tend to be the explorers, even the natives, of this new world, while most adults struggle to keep up.

Furthermore, these new technologies are also forcing us to examine and reevaluate long-held beliefs and practices concerning teaching, learning, and knowledge itself. How’s that for a challenge? While this is a very exciting time to be in education, it can also be quite daunting.

What’s the answer? One step at a time, I’d say, even when those steps are sometimes quantum leaps.

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  1. Bill,

    Great start to an interesting and provocative blog! I’d add this slight modification to your one step at a time approach. My reality seems to be more, one step forward, 1/2 step backward… repeat. I spent a couple of hours this afternoon trying to fill in some holes in our IM prevention wall. Why? Because some teachers are still standing in front of the room and lecturing at kids with Internet connected laptops. Of course the kids go on IM if they can. It seems good new tools only very slowly change bad old practices.

    Looking forward to following your posts!

    Fred

    Comment by Fred Bartels — November 16, 2006 #

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