next gen pt2


There’s a shifty futurist mindset rooting itself further and further into my POV on education. Often as I sit in staff meetings, class activities, and casual convos my brain time travels. This has happened previously, but now I am mostly casting forwards instead of back. Tumbling forwards might be a better way to put it.

The signals surrounding EDU are telling me that the culture and community expect us, insiders, to start doing things differently and these expectations are starting to stack up. Some of the signals are lightly tapping on the window and others beating at the door. Regardless, ignoring them, for me, has become impossible.

Earlier this year I was able to put some of these imaginings into a presentation for PK Markham.  The suggestions were primarily tools that promote cracking open some of the paradigms in education – credit acquisition, hours of study, and alternative accreditation were a few of my play pieces. All in all, the PK was firmly pressing towards aggressive customization of learning.

There are definite signals surrounding EDU telling me that the culture and community expect us on the inside to start doing things differently…

Most of my suggestions were options that I exercised at some point in my portfolio. And all of the suggestions were grown out of options that already exist in EDU – just hacked to be used in a different fashion.

So, on that note, this just happened… How Google took over U.S. Classrooms, and my brain started to frizzle. It seems like a dispatch from the future, and it reminds me of a conversation that I had with a colleague almost 6 years ago.


At the time I was using a non-edu-domained Google Drive to share and collaborate with my students, and a fellow teacher challenged this practice as unsafe and insecure. I couldn’t agree or disagree with his position; honestly, I had no salient understanding about digital privacy issues, but I did feel as if I was on to something that was helping in my classroom. At the time GSuite was just a tool. Now I get the naivete that I am falling on. Google has never been just a tool. But in my class it was.

Some of my students adapted to the collaborative space quickly, others remained bound to paper tools. Regardless, the Google apps like Slides and Docs allowed for reasonable academic shortcuts to occur between digital and analog learning styles. It also allowed for me to exist inside the students’ binders and learning experiences in a way that was previously inaccessible.

At the time GSuite was just a tool. Now I get the naivete that I am falling on. Google has never been just a tool. But in my class it was.


And I felt then as I do now that the tool got more students moving in a similar direction – towards learning. The platform was relatively unadorned as few apps or extensions existed at the time. I did not stop supporting the students who chose to remain on paper. I did not openly advocate for the sole use of Google Apps. But, also, I was not overly concerned with the growth of Google, since it existed outside of our EDU domain.

It still seemed kinda experimental, disruptive, fringy even.

And honestly, in regard to the Google takeover of EDU, I am at peace with sheer volume of intellectual property that they house and I am equally at peace knowing that despite my better judgement I have given Google access to my private details.

But Google has taken over…[?]

What gets to me is the suggestion that there is nothing we can do about it. Google in itself is not education. Also, Google does not define our current needs in education. It is only a tool for education. Google would probably argue differently.

I often think about the Privacy Paradox illuminated so well by Note to Self Podcast on NPR. The paradox for educators occurs when ed-tech convinces us of its benign-ness and that a single story is best. The one note headline rattles me as much as other singular ‘awesome’ titles like Twitter for PD or Voxer for book clubs or GSuite for Education. There is no one-way to do education. And I am bugged by spokespersons and brand agents that are still teaching in classrooms.

I crave disruption methods that keep the silo from growing up around me. It is not so easy to jump ship and expect that the tide will bring you back to shore. Often the distance can seem dangerous and impossible to traverse. Are random views enough? Should I  continually seek another tool to support or disrupt my learning? Try more not less. Commit to none. Get outside of my backyard? Yard sale my silo?

Is it that simple?

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