BERLIN — Michael Trucano approaches education technology from a refreshingly different perspective: The Pessimist.
As senior ICT and education specialist at the World Bank in Washington D.C., Trucano advises many developing countries on their education technology spending. He sees many pitfalls and warning signs and encourages nation states to be smarter, discerning customers. He’s observed many missteps along the way and suggests nations separate the hope from the hype of online learning.
”You will never catch up. Tech innovations will always outpace your ability to innovate on the policy side,” he says. ”So be prepared for change. Policy statements are vital to signal to people what to do.”
We appreciated his speech at Berlin’s Online Educa conference in November on ”The F Word,” which explained how to avoid worst practices. F stands for ”failure.” And Trucano says his goal is to help countries avoid worst practices and failure. Here’s his list of 9 worst practices:
1. Dump hardware in schools, hope for magic to happen.
2. Design for OECD learning environments, work elsewhere.
3. Think about educational content only after you have rolled out your hardware.
4. Assume you can just take content from somewhere else. ”Yes. Khan academy is great. But how is it linked to what a teacher or student want to know?”
5. Don’t monitor, don’t evaluate. Just do what you are going to do.
6. Make a big bet on a unproven technology (esp. one based on a closed or proprietary standard) or a single vendor.
7. Don’t think about (or acknowledge) the total cost of ownership or operation issues or calculations.
8. Assume away equity issues.
9. Don’t train your teachers nor your school headmasters for that matter.
He said people should think differently about online learning and question the best methods for a given culture or country. For example, the notion that computer labs area bad idea may be true in one place but not another. The same is true about ICT literacy classes.
”Digital citizenship and child safety will become an important part of what schools teach,” he said. ”Most kids are not digital natives” as much as we think they are. He notes they still need guidance in using technology to learn.