Yes. You have been there. The children are scrubbed clean, their uniform shirt has been ironed and their broken, shoddy footwear is kept well out of site.
Yes. You have been there. The new building which is an eye-sore on the urban landscape, the sparkling clean windows, the corridors barren of dirt and laughter.
Yes. You too have been there. The newly installed wi-fi, the brand new digital devices, the staff breathlessly dashing from lessons to training sessions, only to slump in the car park with relief that another wasted day is over.
Gloss comes in 3 main categories as well.
Category 1 – We have invested in new computers/iPads/computer labs! See how we shine for you…..
Category 2 – We provide professional training to our staff! See how we shine for you…..
Category 3- We are on par with leading institutions because we support change in Education. See how we shine for you…..
However, the shining is superficial, the gloss is thin and easily cracked.
In order for real change to occur, one needs to work constantly beyond the gloss, beyond the rhetoric, beyond the shining exterior. Agendas of change need to begin within the participants for there to be any positive effect. If teachers themselves do not feel the need for change, no amount of imposed professional training will alter their perceptions. If students are not shown how digital learning does enable them to become better learners, better students, no amount of digital investment will change their perceptions.
Having been (and currently am) a participant of change within educational systems that I work in and contribute to, the attachment to glossy smoke and mirrors is, in my view, one of the major stumbling blocks to effective change.
That is not to say that I favour dropping all digital initiatives and thus risk even further gaps of skills and knowledge. By no means would that solve any problem in education.
What I am saying, is that the need for change, the need for all players to acknowledge the need for change, takes time and must come from within an institution and its participants. There may be national educational agendas, regional agendas or even local agendas. None will be effective if the need does not stem from within. When participants are able to contribute to the agenda of change, to tailor it to their context and needs, that is when the process of change begins in full bloom. That is the moment walking unknown roads becomes a pleasure, an urgency and meaningful.
Just as the iPad brings no alchemy of success to classrooms without an iPadology to accompany it, introducing digital change from above without internalizing change to begin with, will not bring about success.
Educators cannot be lingering and waiting for professional development to come to them any longer. Educators need to be willing to have initiative, to practice and develop their interests and skills. Step by step – just as so many educators will tell their students. Educators need to internalize and acknowledge change. From there, they are able to assist learners, many who still struggle with using digital environments and tools for learning.
There is no time to fear failing.
The only fear is being stuck in gloss.
What’s your choice?
Heick, T. 2012, 5 Secrets for Smarter Education Technology Integration
Jeffery, B., 2013, iPads, A Tool, Not Alchemy, For Education
Vander Ark, T., 2013, Good Work: Tapping the Dark Matter