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March 19, 2013


"The collection of "Big Data" does not, in and of itself, guarantee the formulation of effective solutions to problems."

Could not agree more. Anyone putting blind faith in the power of big data to solve problems, simply by virtue of an ill-defined power of analytics, is not really solving anything.

I think you make an interesting point about the disconnect between educators and tech providers at SXSWedu. My experience there was different. I work with one of those tech providers and our main reason for attending was to hear how educators, esp classroom teachers, were experiencing (loving? hating? igoring? pining for?) technologies that connect with student data, so we heard a lot from educators, but maybe that wasn't happening broadly?

You're right: technology doesn't magically solve disparity, and should never be used to paper over it, but where I think tech companies can provide value is in looking at problems, especially systemic problems, and ask: "What could technology do to improve things?" The challenge is to resist the tempation to mistake improvement for a cure.

Every expert has their faith. Technologists see everything as technological problems. Teachers see pedagogy as the problem. And for that reason often it's the high profile experts who have the hardest time making progress: they're the least willing to experiment and try ideas that cut across those artificial boundaries.

I studied the history of Innovation in many fields to write The Myths of Innovation, and the belief that a grand singular (and typically very neat and clean) idea is the future is a common trap. Idealists, the most vocal champions of a particular solution, fail to recognize how messy, experimental and uncertain change always is, including the changes that led to the idea they've polished so brightly.

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