Last week, I had a unique opportunity — twice. Lately, when I get to speak at a conference, I am usually doing just that, or only that. I go in, do my gig, and then leave for another one or for some other type of appointment. Last week, I was able to attend the entire AIMS (Association of Independent Maryland Schools) conference in St. Michaels, and all of the MICCA (Marylands ISTE affiliate) conference in Baltimore.
While at one of those events, I had a long conversation with an executive of an especially innovative instructional technology company, one I’ve talked about before. Their specialty is tools that help students to express what they know and professional development that supports their tools. They offer some highly innovative software as part of their catalog, but they do not develop it themselves. They have a fail-proof method for obtaining the most creative and interesting tools. They go to the U.K.
I’m not going to try to read too much into this, except to say that I had the very same experience in 2004, when I was able to attend the SETT Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. We were in the heart of NCLB, and it seemed that two in three vendors in U.S. conference exhibitor halls were about products that guaranteed higher test scores. They were about predictable outcomes.
What I saw in the U.K. was many more products that sold themselves based on unpredictable outcomes — open-ended applications that depended more on their creative use than scripted procedures. Who are we paying attention to as we decide what and how we teach? Dewey? or politicians?
Ozawa, Ryan. “Podcasting.” Hawaii’s Photostream. 25 Feb 2005. 2 May 2007 <http://flickr.com/photos/hawaii/5424026/>.