Random Thoughts

Taking Advantage of the Pause

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This week I had the opportunity to do a talk at the ECIS IT Pre-Conference here in Amsterdam. I found it challenging to come up with a message to help drive a conversation forward when you’re speaking to the committed. Usually my talks are aimed at teachers who need a reason to use technology in their classroom not to those already understanding the changes taking place and wanting to know where we go from here.

It was a great challenge as it forced me to really think deep about where we are right now in this world of technology integration…and just where we are in the world in general right now.

What I came up with is this:

To start with I have come to an understanding that this technology trajectory we are on isn’t a straight line. That we go through moments of great technological growth…usually around new hardware….and then we have these plateau periods. They might not be as flat as they look in this image…but there are definitely slower periods I think of innovation as we prepare for the next disruption.

So the image above shows my thoughts on this kind of innovation and plateau idea that I think we go through.

We saw steep climbs when the desktop came out…then there was a period of using them before the Internet came out that created another steep climb of innovation. The laptops and then mobile where other steep moments in technology innovation. These times when we try to figure out what we do with this thing. How does it impact education, what’s it’s best use, etc. We are all trying to figure out how to best use this new technology.

In between these climbs we have moments of pause that allow us to really look at learning, the new technology, and start thinking of ways to really truly use it in the classroom to impact student learning.

I believe we are in one of these pauses right now….we’ve been in one since about 2011…or a year after the iPad came out. There hasn’t been any real new technology. Sure things get faster, smaller, lighter…but it’s all mobile right now…that’s the stage we’re in. I think we also have a couple years left in this pause before wearable technology creates the next steep stage and sends us all once again scrambling to figure out how this new technology impacts education.

I have been thinking about how we use this time well. How do we use this pause to go really deep in our understanding and integration of what we have at our finger tips? Most of you that read this blog are either technology teachers, integration people, IT people…or teachers passionate about technology. I think this is the question we need to be focused on right now. How do we go deep into really changing what the classroom and education looks like? We don’t have a whole lot of time as the next stage….wearable….is right around the corner. We might have two years or so left to really think deeply about integration before we’re all playing with this new phase of technology hardware and figuring out things again….basically starting over. What we learn during this pause will make that next stage that much easier to handle. If we have a deep understanding of technology integration and the role it places in the classroom and within learning then we can apply that knowledge to the new tool, see what it disrupts, see what it changes, and then use the next pause to really integrate it deeply into education.

Below is a hangout done by John Pederson and Dean Shareski. Two smart guys who make a living in this space. John asks Dean the question of what tool in the last year is going to stick? Dean has a hard time answering the question…in fact they both do….why…. because we’re in a pause. Every tool they talk about using is older than a year….in fact every tool they mention have been around for several years now. Why? Because we’re in a pause. It’s an interesting conversation and I just like listening to two smart guys struggle with a question that for people who make a living in this space should be easy.

So here’s the challenge. If we’re in a pause….let’s take advantage of it. Let’s stop for a moment asking what’s the next thing…..it will be wearable…we know that…and we have some time before it’s here. So let’s enjoy this moment and take the opportunity to go deep in our thinking of how we use the tools we have really really well. Let’s really look at the theory of Connectivism. Let’s really look at SAMR and TPACK and make our brains hurt going really deep and having the hard conversations of how all these tools we have really impact education in meaningful and lasting way.

Those are the conversations I want to be having. The conversation of how does everything we have available today truly impact the learning environment? Stop asking me what device or what platform. Let’s move pass these questions and go deep into something different…something better.

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. I have been thinking along these lines for a while, but on a related point. Ever notice with WHOM you connect in various spaces? The algorithms of each space choose for you the people you know. So chances are good I follow @jutecht @shareski and @ijohnpederson in many different spaces. Is this really getting to the unconnected educator, the tech scared-to-death educator, the anxiety ridden lack-of-self-esteem educator? No. How do we turn what we know around to reach people OUTSIDE of our PLNs? How do we turn it around to be about the jobs that need to get done, about the curriculum educators need to teach, and not about the cool tools?

  2. Interesting provocation at the end there, Jeff! Although we are diving deeply into TPaCK and SAMR next year our school is also focusing on revisioning and challenging our local curriculum which I believe will be a powerful combination to impact student achievement and our role as educators. Some exciting learning conversations going on down here in New Zealand schools at the moment!

  3. HI Jeff, Enjoyed this post. I have a bit different take on the “pauses”. bit.ly/1etXY14 Thanks for making me think and have a Happy Thanksgiving. Doug

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  5. From what I see in an awful lot of the schools I work with is skipped stages – most notably “Internet.” A lot of teachers went from desktops to laptops, then expected mobile to do the same thing without ever really picking up on the notion that a virtual space might tie them all together pretty nicely. This is where iPad marketing has been able to whip up the app-frenzy in schools, by appealing to the crowd that still craves in-the-box software. In the name of filling those gaps & giving people’s creativity some oxygen, I’m making connectivity & communication the main foci of my PD this year.

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