I had given up on this broken water fountain after seeing it not work for years – and then my mind was blown when one of our middle school students just walked up to it and made the impossible happen.
Never underestimate the power of a kid to figure it out.
I recently had to migrate my blog from Posterous to WordPress because the former is closing down shortly. It wasn’t the end of the world because I’ve done this before and I know what I’m doing, but I’m sure this is going to be a real pain for a lot of people who aren’t into blog backends and importers and plugins. These people stand to lose all the content and discussions that they have created on their blogs unless they can find an easy way to move on.
But this sort of stuff happens all the time. A year or two ago, I thought we had finally found a way to give all our students free and easy access to a powerful set of creative tools with Aviary‘s suite of web-based applications. I even remember a meeting that my department had at Aviary’s NYC headquarters that sold us on widespread use of their stuff. And then, with a simple change of corporate focus, those tools were gone. We worked around it, but it was a real disappointment from a group that we personally wanted to trust and continue working with.
A lot of educators who put in conference proposals have the “thing” that they focus on for the current season of conferences, and this year mine was that technology isn’t about the stuff that we use but what we make of it. In short, it’s about creating flexible mindsets in the teachers and students that we work with so that they are never hung up on a specific tool that may or may not be available the next time they go to use it.
By focusing on what we want to make instead of how we’re going to make it, we allow for experimentation, curiosity, and serendipity. We let someone find a way to make something happen instead of giving them a recipe to follow. Ultimately, that process is more important than any “finished” product, especially if we allow for revisiting, revision, and continual improvement.
This isn’t just about blogging platforms and computer programs. I’d imagine that we can all try to do things in different ways. The next time you think you how you’re going to get something done, try something different. You might just find a better way to do it.