Education Technology Duality: Nouns, Verbs, and “Everything Just Works”

I write a lot about a learning-focused approach to education technology, including a Learning Technology Framework, an exploration of whether we are talking learning or talking technology, or imploring education technology leaders to focus on learning. This work is embodied by the phrase, “More Verbs, Fewer Nouns,” a request to focus more on what we want to do with technology (verbs) than on the tech itself (nouns).

Students learning with technologyAnd yet, now that I’m a tech director in a small rural (yet, technology-rich!) district, responsible for expanding their learning focus on education technology, I’m discovering that there are no verbs without nouns. The technology must work before we can get too far into the learning. It is not one or the other, but rather both.

Because the nouns need to be in place and function as planned in order to implement our verbs, we’re working toward a philosophy of “Everything Just Works.” At the core of “Everything Just Works” is the belief that teachers are more likely to use their technology with students if there are no hiccups and everything works for their activity as planned.

So “Everything Just Works” is the intersection of our nouns and verbs. It is not sufficient to make sure all the tech functions, but rather that it functions as needed for the learning activities planned. In other words, students have the devices, tools, and connectivity they need, as they need it, for their learning. That’s a different lens for how the technology is expected to work. That’s a verb-focused lens for the nouns.

And we know that we have work to do on Everything Just Works.

How do we know? When some students don’t have the apps and it’s not easy getting onto the student devices, or the Apple TV drops your device from projecting, or you can’t connect to the WiFi, or the WiFi works fine, but the filter won’t let you access the education website you were going to use, or when the teacher’s or the students’ devices are stuck in an endless update loop, or you just updated and now the app you were relying on for the less doesn’t work…

But we’re making progress…