A number of years ago I did a keynote at TechForum Chicago on The Seven Factors of Sticky. In the presentation, I explored what was required to make some type of new technology “stick,” and become an essential contributor to learning. In this post, I’m revisiting the idea, and updating it (now 6 ideas) to reflect the changing nature of technology, the current climate of “school,” and what technology use should mean to an ever-evolving concept of student learning.
Schools that utilize educational technology effectively do so in a strategic way. A strategic methodology promotes sustainability, or long term use, where a deep understanding of how the technology supports learning can develop, further leading to even more effective application.
In my opinion, if something is strategic, it’s application is purposeful, its use deliberate and intentional and supportive of student learning goals, and it’s organizational in its application. In other words, all within the organization have access, it’s universal and not isolated to certain classrooms.
In my opinion, for something to be sustainable, if must be supported by both financial and human resources, its value must be clear and be recognized by all, and its application or use must be able to evolve as its role in the organizational vision evolves.
So, here are my Six Factors of Sticky, or characteristics of technology that make them have the greatest chance of making an impact on learning.
1. The technology has multiple entry points for a spectrum of usership. There is something for everyone and all individuals can extend their use through strategic learning opportunities. Novice users of the organization can grow into and with the technology. Expert users become mentors, their classrooms lighthouses for creativity and innovation.
2. There is a high degree of organizational readiness for the technology, including non-negotiable administrative support. Everything works-things have been tested, and retested. Barriers have been eliminated and procedures and resources for issues that arise have been identified and put into place. The resources are in place. Leadership is behind it, and as a whole, the organization is capable of moving forward without extraneous variables impacting momentum, energy and interest.
3. The technology has been taken out of the technology. It’s not Photoshop. It’s click and record simplicity. It’s cloud-based, type, and it saves for you. It’s integrated and pieces fit together. It’s contemporary, and has been designed to work with other tools of today. Batteries last all day. The user manages it, not an IT department. It. Just. Works.
4. The technology is ubiquitous. It’s available everywhere. On desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones. Everywhere. Synched across the cloud-all contacts, data, information, and ideas- accessible on everything. Access to everything is independent of the device used to access it. And most importantly, ubiquitous access means that all have access and that no equity issues exist – all learners have the same access to the same technology.
5. The technology, and its use, clearly supports the organizations vision of student learning. The technology is flexible, agile, and capable enough to contribute to learning environments that support the realization of the organizations vision for learning right now, and over an extended period of time as the vision evolves. For example, the technology is supportive of a vision that places learning as an anytime, anywhere, with anyone, any device proposition.
6. The technology supports strategies that support the development of student learning dispositions. Learning opportunities are opportunities to forge learning dispositions. That’s what schools should focus on- the development of learning dispositions that enable students to become independent and confident learners. Technology doesn’t magically do that. Wise, dedicated, and seasoned educators do, and use the technology as part of the mix, or set of strategies, required to accomplish that. The same educators realize that the true value of technology is to extend learning to a new place, and one that could not be reached if the technology had not been available.
Given the rapid release of new technologies, shouldn’t you have some framework to help you evaluate what truly has the opportunity to make a connection, a contribution? This is my list and I hope you find it valuable. Please consider adding your thoughts in the comments to contribute to this list. What characteristics do you feel contribute to the ability of technology to truly support strategic and sustainable use in the service of student learning?