Technology is the Educational “Tipping Point”

Technology in Education: The Tipping Point

“That is the paradox of the epidemic: that in order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first.”

Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

      In his best seller, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell analyzes and explains how various phenomena reach a critical point where they simply take hold and explode into the mainstream of life. Technology itself, or at least personal technology, reached a tipping point in the past decade as devices became pocketed, left the desk, and customized to suit the needs of the individual.

     Like many of the ideas and movements mentioned in Gladwell’s book, some initiatives in education reached a tipping point as well. Unfortunately, many were forced or coerced as the result of government mandates and political solutions. Some, however, like differentiation, inquiry, and cooperative learning now settle in as part of best practice. Technology is not an initiative, a best practice, or even as I see it,simply a tool; it’s a new growing environment and culture of connection and learning. Technology is the tipping point in education. As reform efforts of the past moved along in various places with different motivations, outcomes, and players, the results in the greater mainstream of education were essentially the same: not much actually changed and school pretty much looked the same for both teachers and students. Technology allows innovation to flood the digital and natural culture, with powerful urgency and immediacy.

     Professional learning does not need to be based on initiatives that are doomed to failure because they lack sustainability and consistent energy. Technology allows the practitioner as learner to constantly connect, energize, and bring an immediate surge of new understanding to practice. Waiting for the next in-service, faculty or department meeting takes the edge of momentum from almost any vital idea. While it seems like ideas and principles of best practice in learning might become diluted in the seeming chaos of social media and digital platforms, there is a strange order to the vastness of information and discussion. Digital learners convene in virtual locations where interest and passion meet new critical relationships and understandings, new breakout groups form as necessary, and the precious commodities of learning and improvement drive and expand this culture of sharing, engagement, and revolution. In the past, not having simple access to information would provide a substantial roadblock to developing practitioners as the energy towards growth would bend and waiver with the passage of time and a slew of other activities.

     21st century connection and collaboration means that there are no more excuses not to grow, no more questions of time and physical space, and no reason to ebb and flow with each political wind that blows because stopping the momentum of revolution that technology provides is virtually impossible, because making education the best for our children and practitioners is now an inside job. Education is tipping, and technology represents the point that pivots and points the way to a learning revolution.

     Thanks for reading!