Challenging Comfort, Celebrating Innovation

In light of this month’s SXSWedu conference in Austin, we thought we would take time to salute and celebrate innovation in EdTech. There is an inherent risk in embracing technology, challenging current systems, and investing the time to make things coexist. Novelty is blinding because its impacts are initially unknown. It could be an exciting solution that accomplishes exactly what you need. But it might also be rife with unexpected new challenges. We need to mentally prepare ourselves for this kind of growth and adaptation. Novelty shouldn’t distract from the deeper potential new approaches can contain. Better is not always easy.

Gigaom’s own Ki Mae Heussner provides some SXSWedu feedback in this blogpost. Although the post highlights some of the shortcomings of the conference, the issues she showcases are complex, difficult, and deserving of well-thought out answers. It will take time to address concerns like digital equity, increased teacher involvement, and a more consistent presence of technology in the classroom. We are well equipped to engage these challenges, and we must embrace and manage them in spite of their complexities.

MOOCs (massive open online courses) are a great case study in an innovation with its own set of challenges. Many EdTech outlets have been publishing non-stop about the implications of MOOCs (including us). More recently, large media outlets like the New York Times have begun to unpack the benefits and drawbacks of this open, online approach to education.

There is risk in everything we do. The pursuit of providing quality education for teachers and students has not changed. If anything, the intensity has increased — but so have the resources we have. We live in a world where we have the potential to tackle these challenges. We are empowered by the growing community of educators who see technology as a tool to support learning. As we climb to the next peak, the stakes are higher, but we are in good company, and the view from the top will be extraordinary. Here’s to those willing to embrace, boldly go, and let curiosity reign.

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