[It’s not a bad idea to force yourself to unpack what you mean from time to time. I often say, “Technology must be ubiquitous, necessary and invisible.” I thought I’d take a little time to explore each item in that triptych. — Chris]

Technology must be ubiquitous.

Gregg Betheil of the New York City Department of Education talks about how we don’t send kids to the “pencil lab,” but that is how we treat technology. It sits in a special room or in a special cart, and we wheel it out when we have a specific task we want the kids to do with it.

That’s not good enough anymore.

SalinnaIt must be everywhere. 1:1 can no longer be optional. Today’s world is both analog and digital and in many moments it is both of those things at the same time. It cannot be seen as a luxury to provide students with  the digital tools of the modern world. And it is not okay to consider giving children a laptop as something that will preclude other profound instruments of learning. As Gary Stager said at the first EduCon, “We are the richest nation in the world we can provide our children with computer and a cello.”

And once we have provided students with the devices, we must make sure they don’t stay in the backpack. Ubiquitous technology means that they are pulled out in the hallways, they are used in lunchrooms, and they are used in classrooms. When technology is only something that is used when the teacher says so, it remains special, different and therefore not intrinsic to the learning that our kids do.

But when it is ubiquitous, it becomes a part of who we are and how we learn. That is the pathway to helping students understand the world in which they live. When it is ubiquitous, students learn how to put it away when they want to or they need to. When it is ubiquitous, it is no longer special. That is the moment when we stop worrying about integrating technology and start concerning ourselves with learning.



11 thoughts on “Ubiquitous

  1. Seems like a lot of what I’m reading right now is exactly what I need hear at the moment. Just recently I spoke to a group of educators at Digital Learning Day about this. In fact, the first time I had ever heard “ubiquity” used in this context was from your TEDx talk a couple years back. You were spot on then, and just as right today. A lot of the tools and the apps we promote and tweet about and post about mean very little if they are continually kept as special.

    There are a lot of us that need this reminder. But how do we get teachers to understand this/accept this/apply this sooner? Do we allow teachers those moments of falling head over heals for their iPad or an app in hopes that it’s a gateway to deeper learning in his/her classroom? Or, are we to expect that each teacher “get it” when the time comes (which is now) to start moving this direction and focusing more on the learning and the learner?

    I’m full of questions, but I’m trying to get a feel for what you and other leaders are advocating for with regards to how fast can we expect teachers to make these changes, and what are acceptable ways of introducing them to the tools and supporting them along the way.

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