Accepting that Technology Will Fail

Last month, Dr. Joshua Kim, Director of Digital Learning Initiatives at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning and author of the popular Technology and Learning blog, posted an encouraging post for technology professionals using Apple's less-than-perfect live streaming event on September 9, 2014 as an example. (Didn't attend? The first 27 minutes of the live video stream was not only choppy, but plagued by dual audio—voices in both English and Chinese simultaneously.)

Kim smartly uses this tech giant's embarrassing moment as a learning opportunity:

What does the Apple live streaming debacle teach us?

More than anything, we need to accept that technology will break. 

The something going wrong with technology will be the norm, not the exception.

The more we introduce technology into education, the more we will have things blow up.

This is not a reason to stop our efforts with blended learning, flipped classrooms, online courses, adaptive learning platforms, or open online learning. 

We should not stop holding synchronous online seminar classes. We should not stop creating rich media learning objects.

What we should accept is that things will go wrong. 

If Apple can't figure out how to stream their big live event we will also have instances where our learning technology fails.

He makes an excellent point on a number of levels.

At face value, we need to acknowledge that while bolstering bandwidth and providing teachers technology training will help alleviate issues, things can go wrong—that's the nature of learning, of trying new things, of pushing forward.

And, while Kim concludes his article by thanking Apple for taking a risk, failing miserably, and subsequently "making campus technology people look pretty good in comparison", the team at Atomic Learning would like to take that a level further and thank all those technology people for all the times they help avoid and resolve similar failures. (Let's face it, without them, we'd all look pretty bad.)

What Kim may or may not have intentionally done in the article was fail to mention what the Apple event was focused on. Why? Because it doesn't matter.

The event wasn't streamed using the iPhone 6 or the iOS 8 system that were being presented, and won't deter users from purchasing the phone or downloading the operating system update. This only reinforces the point he's pushing people to accept. If a consumer (likely some students in your district) are still willing to pay several hundred dollars for a smartphone that they've never seen or used, it doesn't seem a stretch that they'll overlook a bit of technical difficulty during class.

What it all comes down to is a willingness to try. So go ahead, use that new app/share that video/flip the class!

P.S. Don't know what to try? Atomic Learning has a whole library of technology tools just waiting to be explored.

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