A Quick Mashup of Some Reading

I’ve just been reading Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t. At the same time, just the other day a colleague forwarded a link to the Cisco/Metiri Group report, Technology in School: What the Research Says. I’m going to throw out a quote or two from each, to look at them side-by-side:

“The good-to-great companies never began their transitions with pioneering technology, for the simple reason that you cannot make good use of technology until you know which technologies are relevant. And which are those? Those-and only those-that link directly to the three intersecting circles of the Hedgehog Concept.” (Collins p.152-3)

Indeed, you could have given the exact same technology at the exact same time to any number of companies with the exact same resources as Nucor – and even still, they would have failed to deliver Nucor’s results. Like the Daytona 500, the primary variable in winning is not the car, but the driver and his team. Not thathe car is unimportant, but it is secondary.” (Collins p.156)

“Researchers find that extracting the full learning return from a technology investment requires much more than the mere introduction of technology with software and web resources aligned with the curriculum. It requires the triangulation of content, sound principles of learning, and high-quality teaching – all of which must be aligned with assessment and accountability.” (Metiri Group p.3)

I don’t yet know why these are the jump-out quotes for me, but they are. Educational technologists are constantly learning about the latest and greatest, but that’s not enough. To really make change, to make a difference, there has to be careful study of goals, and how or which technologies will propel toward it. And, as always, people are central to this. Good teaching and learning is done by good teachers. Collins repeatedly speaks of “having the right people on the bus.” After that, the rest, including technology, should fall into place.

Sorry if this is coming across unclear or incomplete – I’m struggling with what I’m trying to say. I’ll put this up and come back in a bit and maybe try to restate where I’m coming from. Definitely tag this a Russo Rambling!

***Update 1 March 2008
What I’m trying to say is that what is most important in the learning process is people who are passionate about what they do, are lifelong learners, and strive to learn about and use any tool that will make their craft better. We don’t have to throw out the “old model” of school – we have to throw out the people who do not aspire to the above. As Collins would say, get them off the bus.

Collins, Jim. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

Metiri Group. Technology in Schools: What the Research Says. 23 Feb. 2008 <http://www.cisco.com/web/strategy/docs/education/TechnologyinSchoolsReport.pdf>.