Last week I called the Automobile Association of America to ask for the best route for driving through the San Francisco Bay Area. There was a long pause on the other end of the line. Finally a woman’s voice said, “Do you have GPS?”
Now there was a long pause on my end of the phone. “Well, yes, I do have GPS on my smart phone. But I was actually looking for a TripTik.”
(For those of you under the age of 30, a TripTik was a map that AAA provided members that contained a hand-drawn route that took into account the weather, traffic and road construction. You requested it by phone and it was mailed to you several weeks later.)
Another long pause on the AAA end of the call. “We not longer provide TripTiks. We do have a free Smart Phone app.”
Ah. Technology. Sure. Even from CBS and AAA.
What do these two events have in common? Both show how two rather conservative organizations have made some remarkable use of technology. Ten years ago it was the exception not the rule when technology was driving big corporate innovation. Now the rule seems to be that you adopt and innovate or die.
And while we used to think that companies were “using” technology, it now appears that technology is driving companies. If you aren’t on Facebook, don’t have positive reviews on Yelp, can’t video stream your content on an iPad and can’t be followed on Twitter, you’re headed for the backwaters.
Which brings me to education and particularly K-12 education. We have a tendency to want to, maybe even need to, twist and bend technology to fit our existing model of instruction. Jam it in there until it seems to fit so I can still stand in front of the class as I teach. There seems to be a general fear that if I give sway to technology, all that I hold near and dear about educational structures and paradigms will disappear.
It is as if the whole world has decided to commute by bicycle and some of us are trying to drive our SUVs on the bike paths.
By the way, AAA, long an opponent of cycling, now provides roadside assistance for bike riders.