EdTech paradigms

uprightwithpenandkeyboardI have been using a Surface Go as my main work device now for a number of months.    It is however only recently that I have finally found myself making use of Windows 10’s tablet mode.   An EdTech paradigm I had held had changed.

Initially my view on Tablet mode was one of disapproval.   It simply didn’t feel right to me.   I couldn’t find my apps where I wanted them, I couldn’t manage what I had open very well and I couldn’t access files and folders.   I simple didn’t like tablet mode.

On reflection the reason for this was that my Surface Go was replacing my desktop PC and laptop.   As such I was initially viewing it from the perspective of a laptop/desktop experience which tablet mode simply doesn’t give you.  But, tablet mode isn’t meant to give you this experience after all it is about setting the device up to perform as a tablet computer as opposed to a desktop/laptop.  It is about being able to work on the move, without a flat surface to sit the device on and also being able to work one handed, while holding the device in the other hand.    I was approaching a new devices functionality from the paradigm of an older way of working.

It was around a month or so ago I realised the advantages of tablet mode in particular when combined with One Note.   In a conference I could flip the keyboard cover behind my device, stick the device in tablet mode then maximise OneNote to full screen.   This gave me a full screen to sketch on or write notes on using the Microsoft Surface Pen.    In meetings I could make use of teams to access resources and documents which were required while easily switching to OneNote to take notes.   And when needed, when I found a free place to work, I could flick back to normal desktop mode and view my files, outlook and other applications in the way I normally would have done on a desktop or laptop.

For me this highlights the ongoing, and one of the biggest challenges of EdTech.   When looking at new tech we largely view it from the viewpoint of existing paradigms.   As such we may not see benefits which potentially exist.   Equally, in order to undergo a paradigm shift we need to commit to seeking these new views plus we need to experiment.   Only by trying will we be able to identify what we don’t know and see new potentials.  This, however, opens us up to the potential risk of failure, which is often an uncomfortable, albeit necessary, experience.

As I have often heard in IT industry circles “fail fast” is the key;   Try new things and experiment, but do it early and with limited groups or trials, where issues or problems will not have wider implications.   Learn from the mistakes and iterate to new solutions and share these solutions.   By doing so hopefully we can all collectively move EdTech use in schools forward.


Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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