Posted by: crudbasher | July 28, 2014

Chasing The Wave : The Ed Tech Problem

The rapid advance of technology creates some problems with adopting new tech for schools. Consider the humble cassette recorder.

cassette recorder

One of these was my first musical device back in the early 1980s. Mine had two players so you could play on one and record on the other. It made mix tapes practical. Most of this would consider this old technology and yet music companies still produce cassette tapes and even players. My point is though, a cassette tape purchased today can be played on a player purchased 30 years ago. When schools bought this technology it was a one time purchase. There was no real upgrade cycle. Oh sure you had to replace them periodically for attrition reasons but the basic technology didn’t change.

So take today’s technology. Do you think that an iPad purchased for school today will be able to do anything in 30 years? How about 20? No, the fact of the matter is these devices become obsolete very rapidly. My original iPad is only 4 years old but is pretty much useless for anything modern.

One reason is because the real innovation is happening in the software space. The hardware just evolves to keep up with that. Another reason is the acceleration of innovation. Things are being developed much faster. Now that these design tools are in the hands of individuals (and financed via Kickstarter and such) innovation is coming from everyone. This drives the wave of change faster and faster.

Schools who try to keep up find themselves spending a vast amount of money and seeing the technology becoming obsolete before they even get a chance to figure out how to use it. Meanwhile the students are leaps and bounds beyond the tech level of their schools and are riding that wave of change.

This isn’t likely to change any time soon. This is one of the reasons I believe the bring your own device movement is the best way for technology to be implemented in schools. Spend the school resources on network infrastructure and teacher training, and let the students figure out the devices.


  1. […] Monday I talked about how difficult it was to give each child a laptop and make the system work. […]

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