Crossing the Chasm in K-12


Most interpretations of tech adoption lifecycles focus on a combination of consumer and business adoption of technology.  Very few look specifically at K-12 education.  So, while some tech might well pass the early adopter phase (cross the chasm) and move into general adoption in the consumer and business spheres, it's probably fair to say that K-12 is customarily some way behind them. Ultimately, it comes down to teachers and their willingness to seek out new technologies and to apply them to their instruction.  

My own teaching career has mirrored the hype cycle, in that I was always looking for that new technology tool to transform my lessons.  With the advent of Web 2.0 tools, I was at the peak of inflated expectations, seeking out every new tool I could find, but this was always inevitablely followed by my frustration when trying to make the techology support long-term learning and teaching. These tools were good in isolation, but I wasn't really seeing any long-term impact on forwarding learning. I begain to think about how we discern the hype from what is educationally viable. Although I have always considered myself an early-adoptor of instructional techonologies, several years back, found myself in a 'trough of disillusionment'  

So how do we get teachers to 'cross that chasm'?  For me, in my own professional development, this has meant looking seriously elsewhere to see what works.  I looked closely at the business world and the entertainment industry.  

My educational epiphany occured several years ago when, as a school librarian, I read Patrick Carman's book Skeleton Creek to my students.  Skeleton Creek is a story told both in text and in web-based videos.  What astounded me the most about this story was that it fully engaged and captured each and every one of my students like nothing I had ever used before it.  It was then I realized the power of connecting print and digital through narrative.  From there I stumbled upon Writer/Director/Producer David Marlett and the concept of transmedia and how it was used to engage participants across platforms through narrative and as a result, I immediately joined the StoryLabs community.  As a part of the community, I learned a great deal from its founder and Multiplatform Producer, Gary Hayes.  And perhaps the most impactful conversation early on, was with the CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment, Jeff Gomez. For me, it was looking outside the edu sphere that transformed my pedagogy, because I now realize that it isn't necessarily about the next great tool, it is about the techniques we use to connect those tools to teaching and learning.  So while I still implement these tools into my instruction, my focus for the past few years has been on how to best use these tools to push learning forward.